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COURT Lawsuit vs. Strollo set for trial



Published: Thu, July 28, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Strollo has filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

YOUNGSTOWN -- Jury selection is slated to begin Monday in a civil trial on a lawsuit filed by the wife of Ernie Biondillo, the local man whose death was ordered by former mob boss Lenny Strollo.

Visiting Judge John R. Milligan will preside over the trial in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court.

The civil suit proceeds after the judge threw out an out-of-court settlement reached last year and put the case back on the trial docket.

Linda Biondillo, of Campbell, filed a wrongful-death suit in common pleas court in February 2002, alleging Strollo and others were responsible for her husband's death.

She settled the suit out of court for $50,000 in March 2004, court documents say.

When Judge Timothy P. Maloney of probate court learned of the settlement, however, he summoned the lawyers for Biondillo and Strollo into his court.

He said in May 2004 there can be no wrongful-death settlement unless it's first approved by the probate court, as required by Ohio law. Because that approval was not sought, Judge Maloney said the settlement cannot stand.

On the docket again

Lawyers for both sides then asked Judge Milligan to throw out the settlement and put the case back on the civil trial docket, which he did later in 2004.

In March 2005, Judge Milligan granted a motion for partial summary judgment for Linda Biondillo on the issue of liability alone.

Judge Milligan previously found that Biondillo was murdered and that Strollo pleaded guilty in federal court to involvement in the murder in February 1999.

Judge Milligan ruled that "reasonable minds can come to but one conclusion, and that conclusion is that defendant [Lenny Strollo] did cause the injury and death of plaintiff's decedent [Ernie Biondillo]."

Judge Milligan's judgment entry said the jury will take up the issue of damages that should or should not be awarded to Linda Biondillo.

Ernie Biondillo was 53 when he was shot in his car on Youngstown's East Side while driving to work in June 1996. Strollo has admitted giving the order to have Biondillo killed because the two were rivals in organized crime operations in the Mahoning Valley.

Facing bankruptcy

Meanwhile, Strollo and his wife, Antoinette Russo, have filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in federal court.

Chapter 13 is known as reorganizational bankruptcy and is filed by individuals who want to pay off their debts over a period of three to five years.

The estimated number of creditors for the Strollos, who have a house on Leffingwell Road in Canfield, range from one to 15. The creditors were not included in the bankruptcy filing.

The filing shows estimated assets of $100,000 to $500,000 and estimated debts of $100,000 to $500,000. Strollo, convicted of racketeering crimes in 1999, is in federal prison at an undisclosed location. His whereabouts are kept secret because he served as a government witness and testified against co-defendants. His bankruptcy lawyer, Jeffrey Adler, could not be reached.




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