Flask continues to snub the court and still wins
Edward A. Flask, the former Mahoning Valley Sanitary District director who served a measly 90 days in Trumbull County jail after being convicted of using his public position for personal gain, has again finessed the criminal justice system.
How? By getting away with not paying the full $78,562 fine owed to the Ohio Ethics Commission. The fine was imposed as part of the sentence handed down after Flask pleaded guilty to two felony and seven misdemeanor counts. He was convicted of improperly accepting $1.7 million from the former Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Ohio and $270,000 from Ohio Edison in consulting fees. Both companies had contracts with the MVSD.
As of August 2003, Flask had only paid $1,240. But rather than send the disbarred lawyer to jail, Visiting Judge Richard Markus extended his probation for two more years. This after the special prosecutor, Victor Vigluicci, had recommended jail time.
It was Judge Markus who contended in September 2000 that there were no victims of Flask's crimes when he placed the one-time political facilitator in the county jail for 90 days.
Given Flask's success at playing the criminal justice system, it should come as no surprise that he has again finagled a break.
Last week, Special Prosecutor Vigluicci agreed to accept $25,000 of the $78,000 still owed to the ethics commission. Why? Because Vigluicci has had a surprising change of heart and now buys Flask's sob story about not having any money and being forced to live off the generosity of family and friends.
Act of kindness
Well, if Flask is so destitute that he can't afford a roof over his head, sending him to jail would be an act of kindness.
We hope Judge Thomas P. Curran is true to his word that if Flask does not come up with the $25,000 by Sept. 15, he will be carted off to jail.
No, this is not a case of kicking a man when he's down. Rather, this whole sordid tale clearly illustrates how the criminal justice system in the Mahoning Valley has been exploited by individuals in positions of power.
There was a time when Flask had friends in high places. It would appear that he still does.
In August 2002, Flask withdrew a request seeking bankruptcy protection. Then U.S. Bankruptcy Judge William T. Bodoh offered this observation: "I am left with the conclusion that what was sought wasn't bankruptcy relief, but a stay on a state court action. Am I being too cynical?"
No, Bodoh had pegged this individual just right.
Indeed, Flask admitted that he sought bankruptcy protection to halt a civil lawsuit filed by the Ohio Attorney General's Office to recover $2.4 million it contends the MVSD directors, Flask and Frank DeJute, improperly paid to the construction manager of the $90 million capital improvements project.
Is it any wonder that John Q. Public has little or no faith in the criminal justice system in this region?
A 90-day jail sentence in a friendly environment -- Flask was made a trusty by Sheriff Thomas Altiere -- a fine that requires him to pay pennies on the dollar and a special prosecutor who seems to have had a change of heart regarding the seriousness of Flask's crimes all lead to the conclusion that justice is not being served.