Judge orders check for Oakhill be paid

YOUNGSTOWN — Mahoning County Auditor Michael Sciortino has printed the $75,000 check for the county’s purchase of Oakhill Renaissance Place and delivered it to a representative of U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

Sciortino cut the check late this afternoon, moments after he was ordered to do so by Visiting Judge Richard M. Markus of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court, and Sciortino displayed a copy of the check shortly thereafter in a news conference in the courthouse rotunda. Sciortino had earlier declined to issue the check because of what he said were concerns about unknown other costs associated with the county’s purchase of Oakhill — the fomer Forum Health Southside Medical Center. The county bought the 353,000-square-foot former hospital in bankruptcy court here a year ago today.

The judge issued the order at the end of a four-day, non-jury trial, in which he ruled against the Ohio Valley Mall Co. in a taxpayers’ lawsuit the company had filed against the county commissioners. OVM, which was the former landlord for the county’s Department of Job and Family Services at Garland Plaza, filed that suit, seeking to rescind the county’s purchase of Oakhill. Having left Garland Plaza, JFS opened in new offices Monday at Oakhill, 345 Oakhill Ave.

Thomas Anastos, a Cleveland lawyer for OVM, said he was unsure if OVM would appeal the ruling, which Judge Markus issued and explained in detail from the bench in a 75-minute session this afternoon after lawyers for all parties gave closing arguments.

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