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Ruling puts sentencing on hold



Published: Fri, January 14, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Federal sentencing guidelines were overturned Wednesday by the U.S. Supreme Court.

YOUNGSTOWN -- The sentencing of two sports bookmakers is on hold while Boardman attorney J. Gerald Ingram reviews Wednesday's U.S. Supreme Court decision that ended mandatory federal sentencing guidelines.

James Donghia, 34, of 12th Street, Bessemer, Pa., and Frank Daltorio, 40, of Appleridge Circle, Boardman, were to be sentenced Thursday afternoon in Cleveland federal court by U.S. District Judge Donald C. Nugent. Donghia and Daltorio pleaded guilty to operating an illegal gambling business in the case against LaVilla Sports Bar and Grille in Struthers.

Ruling

The high court said that sentencing guidelines, established by Congress in the late 1980s, are no longer mandatory but advisory in nature. The ruling reverts to a time when judges could sentence defendants up to the statutory maximum.

Under the guidelines, Donghia and Daltorio, who reached plea agreements with the government, each faced a sentence of six to 12 months. The sentencing range made them eligible for probation with six months' home confinement.

Ingram filed a motion asking that he have time to review the court ruling that makes the guidelines unconstitutional.

He noted that Matthew B. Kall, an assistant U.S. attorney, had no objection to continuing the sentencing.

Judge Nugent granted Ingram's motion. No new sentencing date was set.

Ingram said in his motion that the decision will have "significant impact" on his clients' sentences. He said because the guidelines are unconstitutional, arguments relating to various sentencing options that were previously foreclosed are now available.

Investigation

The gambling case that involved 16 defendants was investigated by the FBI and is being prosecuted by Kall. Fourteen of the 16 defendants pleaded guilty, one defendant's charge was dismissed and one defendant's charge was deferred.

So far, four of the defendants have been sentenced. Each received two years' probation with the first six months spent in home confinement.

The sports gambling case ended Dec. 10 with the final three defendants -- LaVilla operator Steve "Moose" Almasy, 66, of Poland and his son and daughter-in-law, Kevin, 36, and Patrice Almasy, 33, of Boardman. Steve and Kevin Almasy pleaded guilty and will be sentenced in May. The gambling charge against Patrice Almasy will be deferred for one year with pretrial diversion. It is an alternative to prosecution that seeks to divert certain candidates from traditional criminal justice processing into a program of community supervision administered by the pretrial services or probation office.

If, at the end of the year, she has complied, the charge will be dismissed.




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