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Monus is moved to Fla. facility



Published: Thu, June 30, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The former Phar-Mor chief's federal prison confinement ends Dec. 19.

By PATRICIA MEADE

VINDICATOR CRIME REPORTER

YOUNGSTOWN -- By the time you read this, Phar-Mor swindler Michael I. Monus has likely completed his journey from federal prison to the Salvation Army in West Palm Beach, Fla.

Monus, 57, entered the federal prison system in January 1996. His home since August 1997 has been the Federal Correctional Institution in Elkton. He left this week, but his mode of travel to the halfway facility in Florida was not disclosed.

Because of the distance, Monus likely traveled by "Con-Air," the U.S. Marshals Service airline known officially as JPATS -- Justice Prisoner and Alien Transportation System.

Monus, who once owned two palatial homes in Trumbull County, has relocated to West Palm Beach. Computer records show that his third wife, the former Mary Ciferno of Canfield, has been at an address in West Palm Beach since January.

The relocation necessitated a halfway facility there for Monus to complete the balance of his prison sentence. His prison commitment ends Dec. 19. He will then serve five years' supervised release.

Living at the Salvation Army halfway house on North Military Trail for the next 51/2 months will enable Monus to ease back into society, Carlos Rodriguez, manager at the federal Bureau of Prisons community corrections office in Miami, said Wednesday.

Rodriguez said Monus will have to find full-time work within 15 days and can then earn weekend passes. Monus will be permitted visitors.

Notorious case

The nearly $1 billion fraud and embezzlement scheme Monus and others unleashed on Phar-Mor was considered the largest in U.S. history in 1992. The deep-discount chain he co-founded in 1982 ceased to exist 20 years later.

Monus also founded the now-defunct World Basketball League and served as president of the local franchise, the Youngstown Pride. Prosecutors said he pumped embezzled Phar-Mor funds into the WBL.

Monus also was a co-owner of the Colorado Rockies baseball team when it first entered major league baseball.

In June 1994, his first trial ended in a mistrial. He was found guilty of all 109 counts when retried in April 1995.

On Dec. 1, 1995, U.S. District Judge George W. White sentenced Monus to 235 months in prison, followed by five years' supervised release. The judge also imposed a $1 million fine.

Monus began his prison term at the Federal Correctional Institution in Milan, Mich., in January 1996. He transferred to Elkton in August 1997.

The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld his conviction but vacated the sentence in October 1997. The appellate court sent the case back to Judge White for resentencing.

In March 1998, before being resentenced, Monus was acquitted of jury tampering that was alleged after the first trial.

At the resentencing in February 1999, Judge White gave Monus 139 months in prison, followed by five years' supervised release. The fine was cut to $500,000.




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