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RESENTENCING Judge sets court date for Saadey



Published: Mon, February 21, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Saadey is at a federal prison camp in Florida.

YOUNGSTOWN -- A federal judge will resentence Russell J. Saadey Jr. on March 18 after a federal appeals court reversed one of his convictions.

Saadey's projected release from prison is May 20, 2007. That release could be shortened by a year if he completes an intensive drug program, unrelated to the resentencing, his Canfield attorney Brian P. Kopp, who argued the appellate case on Saadey's behalf, has said.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati filed its decision Jan. 5, reversing one count in Saadey's multicount conviction that included racketeering. A three-judge panel concluded that the government offered no evidence to show that Saadey, known as Champ, aided and abetted a public official in extorting money from a man to reduce criminal charges.

The appellate judges upheld the remaining convictions and remanded the case to U.S. District Judge Kathleen M. O'Malley in Cleveland for resentencing.

Kopp has said he expects the judge to reach some "middle ground" between immediate release and the full sentence.

Saadey, 50, of Austintown, once served as an investigator for James A. Philomena, who was Mahoning County prosecutor until the end of 1996. Philomena received federal and state prison sentences for case fixing and remains locked up.

Arguments

Kopp had argued that Saadey, as a private individual, could not be prosecuted under the public officials' "color of official right" contained in the Hobbs Act (extortion). The appellate judges said the government acknowledged that Saadey was not a public official at the time of the alleged attempted extortion; he had already left the prosecutor's office. Judge O'Malley had earlier denied a motion to dismiss the count, saying Saadey had masqueraded as a public official.

Saadey, unrelated to the appeals court decision, was transferred last month to a federal prison camp in Florida from the federal prison in Morgantown, W.Va. He will be moved to a jail in the Cleveland area for his resentencing.

In October 2001, a jury found Saadey guilty of conspiracy to violate the Racketeering and Corrupt Organizations statute, one count each of extortion and conspiracy to commit extortion, three tax evasion and five false statements on credit applications.

In April 2002, Judge O'Malley sentenced Saadey to 55 months in prison, saying he "cast a dark cloud" over the court system in Mahoning County.

Thomas J. Gruscinski, an assistant U.S. attorney, had asked that Judge O'Malley increase the standard sentence of 41 to 51 months to 46 to 57 months. Gruscinski said the Austintown man was one of the few involved in Mahoning County corruption cases who failed to accept responsibility.

The prosecutor said Saadey took an active role in case-fixing negotiations. What Saadey did, the prosecutor said, undermined public confidence in the judicial system.

Testimony

Judge O'Malley said Saadey made a mockery of the prosecutor's office. Saadey's case was built primarily on the testimony of businessmen who testified that he took part in extortion schemes.

Once released, Saadey must do 150 hours community service and attend an out-patient program for alcohol abuse.

In October 2002, Saadey, who was already in prison, had 18 months added to his 55-month sentence by U.S. District Judge Peter C. Economus in Youngstown federal court.

Saadey pleaded guilty a month earlier to being a felon in possession of a firearm. The gun charge followed a fight between Saadey and his wife at their Austintown home two days after he received his 55-month sentence.




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