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Lenny Strollo knows justice when he sees it; just ask him



Published: Sat, January 29, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Mobster Lenny Strollo has a very finely tuned sense of fairness -- at least when it comes to how he is treated.

Back in 1997 when federal agents raided his Canfield home searching for evidence, he complained, "It's not fair." Over the years, he was so concerned about fairness that he felt compelled to buy judges and prosecutors to assure an outcome that he could live with.

And now, after he managed to squeal his way into a sweetheart deal -- a prison sentence that virtually allowed him to get away with murder -- Strollo is complaining, again, that he wasn't treated fairly.

In truth, if there is any justice, Strollo will die in prison -- a better end than he arranged over the years for his mob rivals.

Strollo is doing everything he can to be sure that doesn't happen.

Last January, about five years after Strollo reached an agreement with federal prosecutors that called for him to testify against his former partners in crime, Strollo was finally sentenced. He got 12 years and eight months in prison -- not bad for a guy who ran the rackets in the Mahoning Valley for the Mafia's Pittsburgh family for years, raking in millions of dollars for himself and his bosses, buying politicians, ordering the murder of rivals.

Experience shows

But Strollo has always been good at gaming the system.

His first high profile arrest, for counterfeiting in 1963, resulted in a conviction that year, but a succession of appeals kept him out of jail for more than four years, which at the time was a record for malingering in the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Strollo, 73, now wants U.S. District Judge Kathleen M. O'Malley to vacate his sentence and conduct a hearing on a new sentence.

He claims to have learned that at some time while he was in custody, government lawyers offered to recommend an even shorter sentence than that to which he finally agreed. He says his lawyers never brought the offer to him. Without revealing what the offer was, Strollo says he would have accepted it had he known about it.

We acknowledge that Strollo was one of the most important witnesses ever to testify in Northeastern. Court testimony or information he shared with prosecutors helped bring to justice a congressman, a county prosecutor, judges and fellow gangsters. Still, he deserved a more severe punishment than he received and any reduction, if it comes, will constitute an even greater travesty of justice.




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