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Cronin, Tsagaris share a ‘lender’

Published: Sun, December 6, 2009 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Bertram de Souza (Contact)

By Bertram de Souza

First, an apology to federal prosecutors in Cleveland who kept mum about the identity of the businessman who gave former Trumbull County Commissioner James Tsagaris a “loan” of $36,551. The prosecutors were ripped apart in this space on Aug. 23 for refusing to divulge the name of the individual who played Let’s Make A Deal in 2004 with the then county commissioner.

Tsagaris, now 75 years old, claimed memory loss when asked to identify his benefactor. He is spending one year of electronically monitored house arrest after being convicted of using his public position for personal gain.

His lawyer went a step further, telling reporters “It would be a cold day in hell” before he named names.

And even federal Judge Sara Lioi, who pointed out during the sentencing that Tsagaris acted on behalf of the now infamous “senior executive of a business” and voted in his capacity as a commissioner on matters that personally benefited the individual, chose not to identify him.

Here’s what was written in this space about the feds’ refusal to put a face on the evil one:

“Why the willingness of everyone involved in the law-and-order business to keep the identity of the individual secret? Could it be that he is so powerful that his influence reaches the highest levels of the criminal justice system? Inquiring minds would certainly want to know.”

Ex-Judge Cronin

Well, inquiring minds now know. On Thursday, federal prosecutors revealed that the businessman who loaned Tsagaris the money is the same individual who slipped $18,000 to former Mahoning County Common Pleas Judge Maureen Cronin.

Cronin, who resigned her judgeship July 1, 2007, after 13 years on the bench, will plead guilty to accepting the $18,000 “loan” from the “senior executive of a business” and concealing the transaction.

But unlike Tsagaris, who used his supposed health problems to get a tap on the wrist from the judge, Cronin will probably spend between 12 and 18 months in a federal penitentiary.

Why the different treatment for two individuals who have both contributed to the corruption of government in the Mahoning Valley? Because Cronin was a judge when she took the money from the businessman whose companies had lawsuits pending in her court; Tsagaris was just a shill.

Documents filed last week that reveal Cronin’s admission to taking the “loan” do not suggest a quid pro quo.

But, it is a safe bet the money wasn’t given for altruistic reasons. If it were, both the giver and the taker would have declared the transaction on the appropriate forms and would have signed agreements laying out the terms and conditions of the loan.

It is instructive that Tsagaris never signed a loan agreement, was not given a repayment schedule and there was no interest rate established.

Using the word loan to describe the transaction is to give the benefit of the doubt to the participants.

Maureen Cronin’s fall from grace is at once angering and saddening. In her heyday as the city of Youngstown’s prosecutor and then as a common pleas judge she was dedicated, knowledgeable and always accessible to the press. She had nothing to hide — in those days. But then her life took an unfortunate turn and today she is just another portrait on the Valley’s wall of shame.

As for the businessman, just about every area resident who has followed the saga of government corruption in the Mahoning Valley must know who he is.

Getting a pass

Federal prosecutors are no doubt aware that we’ve grown tired of the corrupters of our public institutions getting a pass. It is right and necessary that those who violate the public’s trust are made to pay for their sins, but nothing will change until individuals who have no qualms about corrupting government are called to account.

Former Judge Cronin’s admission comes in the midst of a federal and state investigation of the so-called Mahoning County Job and Family Services relocation scandal. At the heart of the probe is the role played by Anthony Cafaro, head of the Cafaro Co., in attempting to block the JFS from leaving his company’s plaza on the East Side.

The department is now located in the county-owned Oakhill Renaissance Place, formerly Southside Hospital.


1Tugboat(759 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

How about a listing of the lawsuits pending in her court? Should be easy enough to compile.

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2saddad(647 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

How dumb does one have to be to take a bribe while their congressman is in jail for the same thing?

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3Tugboat(759 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

"Another contributor to Torricelli’s legal defense fund is former Congressman Frank Guarini, Chairman of the National Italian American Foundation. This organization made headlines in 1998 when it joined with the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations (NECO) in calling for a demonstration outside the Manhattan offices of the producers of the hit HBO series The SOPRANOS, which both organizations claimed reinforced negative stereotypes about Italian-Americans. The demonstration was called off after reports in the Media revealed that NECO President William Fugazy was a convicted felon named in Court proceedings as a Mafia Associate. Fugazy was one of many convicted felons who received a Presidential Pardon from Bill Clinton during the final hours of his Administration. Among the Board of Directors of the National Italian American Foundation is John J. Cafaro, President of the Cafaro Company of Youngstown, Ohio. Earlier this year Cafaro pleaded guilty to bribing Congressman James Traficant of Ohio, who has had extensive ties to members of the Pittsburgh Mafia Family. Cafaro is expected to be a Prosecution Witness against the Congressman at his Federal bribery and racketeering trial scheduled for next February."


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4saddad(647 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

You people that dont have millions of dollars to play the libel game with are pretty feisty.

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5Stan(9923 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

"Tsagaris, now 75 years old, claimed memory loss when asked to identify his benefactor. "

Very convenient !

"She had nothing to hide — in those days. But then her life took an unfortunate turn and today she is just another portrait on the Valley’s wall of shame."

Maureen had plenty to hide but the Feds weren't on her trail yet .

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6candystriper(575 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

... rumor is Federal Prosecutors in Cleveland are indicting shortly several Cleveland County Commissioners for massive fraud in the AmTrust Bank failure.


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7Tugboat(759 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

For Saddad -

'Ohio Revised Code 2739.01 Libel and slander.

In an action for a libel or slander, it is sufficient to state, generally, that the defamatory matter was published or spoken of the plaintiff. If the allegation is denied, THE PLAINTIFF must prove the facts, showing that the defamatory matter was published or spoken of him. In such action it is not necessary to set out any obscene word, but it is sufficient to state its import

2739.02 Defenses in actions for libel or slander.

In an action for a libel or a slander, the defendant may allege and prove the truth of the matter charged as defamatory. Proof of the truth thereof shall be a complete defense. In all such actions any mitigating circumstances may be proved to reduce damages.'

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8steelerman09(111 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

Ok, I am from Columbiana County, but moved to Austintown a few years back. In this article, Bertram says that we should all know who this businessman is? Can someone tell me who it is?

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9RFederer(116 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

Steelerman09, did you even read the article? The name is there.

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10steelerman09(111 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

I see the name, but didn't know if he was the one that played "the role", as they say.

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