- Advertisement -
  • Most Commentedmost commented up
  • Most Emailedmost emailed up
  • Popularmost popular up
- Advertisement -

« News Home

Balancing our image

Published: Sun, August 1, 2010 @ 12:01 a.m.

By Bertram de Souza (Contact)


Vindicator columnist

It was the seminal moment in this era of

government corruption in the Mahoning Valley.

On Christmas Eve in 1996, then Mahoning County Prosecutor-elect Paul Gains was standing in the kitchen of his Boardman home when he heard a sound at the back screen door. He didn’t react because he thought it was his cat.

It wasn’t.

Gains was the target of a Mafia contract hit that went awry when the shooter’s gun jammed as he was standing over the former Youngstown police officer who had been shot once in the arm. The bullet lodged in his side.

The shooter fled, Gains survived and the Mahoning Valley was thrust into the spotlight of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. Even the office of the United States Attorney General got involved.

The attempted killing of a lawman in a region with a sordid reputation is no laughing matter.

The subsequent investigation, by Boardman and Youngstown police, the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, was likened to a person picking at a huge scab. The deeper the agencies dug, the more disease they uncovered.

When it was determined that Gains’ murder had been sanctioned by Mafia boss Lenine “Lenny” Strollo and was designed to make sure the prosecutor-elect did not take office, the stage was set for what was to become a major chapter in the Valley’s political — and criminal — legacy.

Why did Strollo and members of his “family” not want Gains as prosecutor? Because they wanted to ensure that his predecessor, James Philomena, whom he had defeated in the Democratic primary in 1996, would hold on to the job through appointment.

Philomena, who subsequently served four years in the federal penitentiary and three in state prison for bribery and perjury charges, was a major player in a case-fixing scheme that involved an assistant county prosecutor, defense lawyers and a county judge. The “Justice for Sale” sign that he erected outside his office in the county courthouse (figuratively speaking) endeared him to Strollo.

Philomena, who was released from prison in 2006 and died in 2007, offered this mea culpa during one of his court appearances:

“I’ve helped pollute the Mahoning Valley, and I feel I must cleanse it. I’ve embarrassed my friends and family and the voters who voted for me. I betrayed justice.”

But he wasn’t alone in his betrayal. Nor was he the last.

Mahoning County Sheriff Phil Chance was convicted in 1999 by a federal jury of violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act, RICO conspiracy, obstruction of justice and two counts of extortion. The corruption case centered mostly on Chance’s 1996 election campaign, when he sought Strollo’s financial support.

The ex-sheriff was sentenced to 71 months in federal prison and began serving in 2000. He was released in 2004 and transferred to a halfway house. His sentence was reduced because he earned “good time” while behind bars.

Strollo, who pleaded guilty to heading the most successful organized crime syndicate in the history of the Valley, was sentenced to 12 years, instead of life, in federal prison, because he agreed to become a government witness.

He was indicted in 1997 of RICO violations of aggravated murder, casino-style gambling and numbers lottery.

The murder charge stemmed from his ordering a hit on mob rival Ernie Biondillo Jr. in June 1996. He also was charged in state court with the attempted murder of Gains.

Strollo is now a free man.

In all, 70 Mahoning Valley residents were convicted in the late 1990s and early 2000 of involvement in government corruption and organized crime.

At the time, leaders in the community expressed the hope that the region had finally rid itself of the dregs of our society and had turned the page.

It was wishful thinking.

Former Congressman James A. Traficant Jr.’s much publicized trial and subsequent seven-year prison sentence forced the Valley to again deal with its legacy of corruption.

After Traficant, former Judge Maureen Cronin and former Trumbull County Commissioner James Tsagaris went off to jail for misusing their public positions, and mall developer John J. Cafaro, was convicted of corrupting government, but avoided time behind bars.

The end? Hardly.

Last week, a special grand jury in Mahoning County handed up a 73-count indictment of seven individuals and three corporations in still another case of government corruption. Commissioner John A. McNally IV, Auditor Michael Sciortino, former Treaurer John Reardon, former Job and Family Services Director John Zachariah, Cafaro Co. owners Anthony Cafaro Sr. and Flora Cafaro and Atty. Martin Yavorcik are accused of conspiring to undermine the conduct of county government business.

The indictment has triggered — again — the debate in the community about the corrupt and corruptible nature of local government. It also has raised this question: Are the charges as serious as murder, or selling justice or a congressman’s acceptance of bribes?

Given our legacy, there can be no other answer but “Yes” because the charges against McNally and the others cannot be viewed in isolation. They are part of a putrid whole.

Since that Christmas Eve when Paul Gains heard a noise at his door, each subsequent criminal corrupting government action should have been met by Valley denizens with less surprise and more outrage. Each act has chiseled away at the Valley’s reputation — at its very core.

There’s a better question that should be asked: Will we ever be free of the shackles of government corruption?

The answer: It depends on whether we’re mad as hell and won’t take it any more.

Vindicator Managing Editor Mark Sweetwood contributed to this news analysis.


1SteubenvilleOhio(10 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

You guys are brave! Down in Jefferson County, the media is scared to death to talk about corruption. What keeps you guys from harassment at the vindy? I've talked to newspaper reporters in Jefferson County Ohio, and over the phone years ago, they told me they have been offered Bribes and even named names. I've even had reporters tell me certain officials would be killed by the Mob if they ever dropped out of the Mob. The Mob is not talked about publicly in our area. The fact that you can even talk about it in the paper, and that gov officials indict these folks, is BIG PROGRESS! The scary thing is, if you dig around online, some of these big Mafia from Y town have donated money and have even influenced Presidents! You have to wonder where their power ends. I sure wish the newspapers / media in my area, had the courage to even mention the mafia ties people have here.

Suggest removal:

2davidjohn(144 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

hypocrisy gone wild

this newspaper has treated those people who tried to reform politics like they were radioactive

you laughed at zamary and fitzer

you treated them like gadflies or wackos

new candidates were shunned for the incumbents at every turn

you knew mcnallys connection to cafaros and still endorsed him

you call now for a cpa auditor but said little about how sciortino with no experience was appointed in a classic corrupt backroom deal

now is not the time to act self righteous

you have been a major part of the problem

maybe you should resign as well

Suggest removal:

3Stan(9923 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

"Strollo is now a free man."

Well, the Cafaros enterprise has Lenny's dwarfed . With Capri embedded in politics they are legitimized . Their resources enable them to basically do as they please . They are the dominant power in The Valley .

Suggest removal:

4Stormieangel(136 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

Wow! I know very little about the political scene except to think they are all just a bit or a whole lot crooked. They go into office for their own agenda and not to help their constituents. Makes one wonder about those that are supposed to be 'representing' us in the Oval office, senate and house. It scares me for the oncoming generations. How will our kids and grandkids be affected by all the corruption in government? How do we know which ones are corrupt? What few really are honest and care? But do the honest ones know things and look the other way? Big money talks and you know what walks. As long as greed of money is in the equation, things will never improve. Point is.. it is doubtful things will ever get better. Get rid of one crook and another takes his place...sorta the same as the terrorist situation. And the culprits get a cushy jail situation, serve their time and come out...reformed? That is kinda doubtful but I guess they stay in the shadows more. Sad situation indeed. And the problem is worldwide. Greed and corruption are the culprits. And how many more 'leaders' are guilty in this situation and they are not part of the indictments?
It is time for the laws of the land to be upheld, not just the ones that involve traffic issues and murders by the low lifes. Something needs to be done about the top levels of society, the ones who really do run the government. Let us hope our law enforcers are on a roll and justice will be served out by an honest judge.

Suggest removal:

5palbubba(809 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

"Greed and corruption are the culprits" is the truth. We can never expect to correct it unless we do away with the large salaries and exceptional benefits of our elected officials. They are not going to do that to themselves, they have it made. Constant vacations, high pay, staff to do everything for them, best benefits known to man, do you think they are going to change that. A boycott of tax paying, and never voting for an incumbent would be a good place to start.

Suggest removal:

6Alexinytown(246 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

I wouldn't say Strollo's enterprise was significantly smaller than Cafaro's, rather than it is the nature of the business that is different. Strollo was well connected, well financed, and his organization had more influence than the Cafaro's could ever hope to have, even with all of their money. These indictments are peanuts compared to what the Mob had set up in the political system years ago.

One is a reputed mobster that bought political influence that operated purely on a cash basis, while the other held himself out as a legitimate businessman who bought political influence and also operated largely in cash.

Six to one, half a dozen another.

Just be happy no one is getting killed this time.

Suggest removal:

7glbtactivist(321 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

Reagan released this age of greed. Now it is at all levels. Hopefully Trafficant will only get a handful of votes ( from his friends and family ) and this will let people know that greed and corruption does not pay.

Suggest removal:

8Stan(9923 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

" Strollo was well connected, well financed, and his organization had more influence than the Cafaro's could ever hope to have, even with all of their money."

Don't bet on it . The Cafaros are far more sophisticated and have a family member in the State Senate . Lenny could only wish that he was that well heeled .


Suggest removal:

9VINDYAK(1824 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

We all know about Trafficant's mis-deeds, but what scares me is the reality that many of the current crop of elected officials are no better. So, will the voters decide that Trafficant is not that bad afterall and elect him again?!

Are we on a merry-go-round in Zombieland?

Suggest removal:

10Stan(9923 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

What has the voters upset is the fact that Tim Ryan is a follower of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid . He hardly knows the people in The Valley when he is in DC .



Suggest removal:

11GPackwood(35 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

Youngstown will be just fine if community progress is given as much attention as community missteps.

Talking about the bad guys becomes a self fulfilling prophesy for citizens...especially young citizens.

Yet, high school seniors don't have a clue who these people are and most don't care as they prepare to chase after their dreams.

What good things are happening as we kick-off August 2010?

Suggest removal:

12Heartland(38 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

As someone who was a USWA member and worked in the steel industry for 28 years I never got more than three weeks vacation. Militant unions? I wish. The USWA passed an awful contract at my plant that the workers had turned down. Undemocratic? Yes, militant no way. The unions like IUE were the companies best friend. They helped set up three tiers of wages and almost had a fourth. Militant unions? Let's get past this myth. The only ones who repeat this myth are guys who get down on their knees and service their boss and think everyone should.Philomena admitted his guilt I wish Traficant would have.

Suggest removal:

13ytown1(398 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

Heartland, You need to get your facts straight, I had a relative that worked at US Steel back in the glory days that definitely had 13 weeks vacation, he was off all summer.

Growing up I thought all jobs had a summer breaks like we had in school, boy was I disappointed to find out you had to get your way into a union to get that kind of cushy treatment.

But I chose the education route instead, as the steel industries crumbled before I was in high school and crushed those dreams of endless summer breaks.

My only regret was I did not see the writing on the wall, GOVERNMENT JOBS was the new old steel union jobs and benefits.

Now we only can wait and see if the government jobs go the way of steel? Only time will tell.

Suggest removal:

14CandyfromCanfield(172 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

Before you start blasting all steelworkers, let me just say this. My father was a steelworker, and I remember him coming home from work exhausted and filthy. On more than one occasion, he was hospitalized because of accidents he'd received at work. It was dirty, dangerous work...and I don't believe for a minute he sat around and did nothing! During the summer months, he would head straight for the basement to cool down before having dinner. He was a smart man and made sure all of his kids went to college, earned their degrees, and obtained jobs that weren't nearly as dangerous. I only remember once that he had a 13-week vacation in the summer. If USA1 thinks my father and all other steelworkers "did nothing", then I'd ask USA1 if he "did nothing" during his tenure at Lordstown? Do you think all men and women who work in factory jobs "do nothing"...or just steelworkers? From what I've seen in my life, it's the working men and women of this Valley who made it what it was. It's the idiot politicians...on both sides of the aisle...who have destroyed it with their all-consuming greed and corruption. I wouldn't say that our entire country is morally bankrupt, but I'd say that's pretty much the case here. And seriously, who in their right mind would want to run for political office in this area? That's an editorial I'd like to see addressed in a future issue of the Vindicator.

Suggest removal:

15McTide(10 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

Hey Stan, it's likely they have 2 state senators working for the Cafaros. Joe Schiavoni wasn't even the list of candiates sent down to Columbus next thing he's appointed by Capri. Gotta wonder why.

Suggest removal:

16stopcrime(3 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

The funny thing is that you guys all talk about Cafaros "enterprise", well it is coming down now isn't it? Cafaro has done a lot for the area, I will give him that but he is still free due to the fact that he hasn't caught. I think we can all agree there. Truthfully and you can all look at the figures, when organized crime was flourishing in this area, these criminals of today wouldn't dare do the crime on Youngstowns' South Side that they are doing today. Heck the Youngstown police, as I have heard on their police scanner frequency take 3 hours sometimes to get the call for a domestic violence that had a weapon involved. Who knows maybe the "Guardian Angels" could come back and save our communities or even the people of Youngstown could actually stand up for themselves instead of complaining all the time and take crime by the horns and ride it out of here. Hmmmm wonder if it could happen?

Suggest removal:

17islandgrump(59 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

I have been gone from Youngstown for over 15 years and nothing has changed.

The corruption is just handed down from generation to generation. From father to son and now daughter. The public officials can't fill themselves full enough with the slop from the public trough. They are the most greedy I have ever seen.

I was a police officer there for over 25 years. I have been gone for over 20 years and nothing has changed except the players. The names are even the same in some cases.

Youngstown is an embarrassment and a let down to the people who honestly tried their best to make it right.

Youngstown is a great place to be FROM!!

Suggest removal:

18SteubenvilleOhio(10 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

The DeBartolos were large contributors to Reagan and Bush and are active in California politics. Edward DeBartolo Jr. refers to the California Attorney General as "Danny" and has contributed to his campaign war chest. They were room mates at Notre Dame.

"For example, the U.S. Customs Service had received information from one of its special agents, William F. Burda, in January 1981 that the DeBartolo organization 'through its control of particular state banks in the state of Florida is operating money-laundering schemes, realizing huge profits from narcotics, guns, skimming operations, and other organized-crime-related activities. This organization is reported to have ties to [Carlos] Marcello, [Santos] Trafficante, and [Meyer]Lansky and because of its enormous wealth and power has high-ranking political influence and affiliations.'

"In an earlier report, authored by Burda, the special agent wrote that he had developed source information indicating that 'Meyer Lansky, the financial wizard of OC [organized crime], is now considered by most to be almost senile and getting out of the business. His successor and new financial wizard is recognized as Edward J. DeBartolo.'"


Suggest removal:

19SteubenvilleOhio(10 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

I've talked to people who worked for the mafia, they claim these folks have rolodex's with every sitting judges name from the lowest all the way to the highest in the state of ohio on their desk, even their home phone numbers. They are all friends!

Another good thing they have going is the fireworks industry, the mob has licenses to sell fireworks, and the state firemarshal has declared that there will b e no other licenses given out! Talk about a monopoly! And when one local mobster died, he left a message right in the online guest book, saying he'll miss him! OF course the fireworrks license got passed right down to his son. It's kind of funny, a private citizen can legally own a machine gun in Ohio, but it's impossible for them to get a license to sell fireworks.

Na, the new mob is more sophisticated, they don't have to kill you now, they just get trumped up charges brought against you, have you falsly arrested, have building inspectors harass you. They even have their hands in the electric company. I had an instance where I could not even get my electric turned on, because the 'boys' were mad at me. And guess what recourse I had, fill out 10 papers, and request a hearing in Columbus ohio. My attorney even said the Power companies do basically whatever they want. They also have a lot of hazardous contaminated realestate that they won't sell, for fear of it being disclosed its contaminated with dangerous chemicals.

We even have the mafia running the video machines in our area, and it seems no one is allowed to run them, except one person. It's a 'grey area' they say, except if you are in the mob and have them.

These people are screwing over people left and right. They get two gov jobs, collect two pensions, retire, then go one and get two more gov jobs for another 20 years. Wake up folks, and be proud the Vindy even allows talk about this, in some areas, its a big NO NO to even talk about local corruption. Our sheriff was idicted when Trafficant was, and also beat the feds charge against him. He was indicted a 2nd time right before 911, but it seems 911 took over, and those charges kinda faded away.

Google steubenville ohio corruption / mafia. I would love to know if anyone knows of the connectins between Y town and Steubenville / Jefferson county.

If you want to see an area more corrupt than youngstown, that sweeps everything under the carpet, visit the City of Steubenvilles facebook page, and ask around, and watch what kind of response you get, here is their link.


Mention organized crime in Steubenville on that site, see how scared they get :)

Suggest removal:

20McTide(10 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

I hope Jimbo gets on the ballot and is seen as a threat. The congress would probably throw more pork Ryan's way than an undecided judge at a rib burnoff just so that don't have deal with Trafficant. Maybe they would even give us back our pentagon payroll center which may of been the genesis of Jimbo's problems with the Clintons anyway.

Suggest removal:

21SteubenvilleOhio(10 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

Ever google traficants name and dig up his old contributors? A lot were middle eastern muslims, who were anti israel. I don't hear many of you talking about that. I really can't support those who support our enemy.


Among the contributors whose names would probably NOT be recognized by most Youngstown residents are Virginia residents Ali Asghar Abbaszadeh, Reza Bulochi, Massud Mirmohammaoi, Ramesh Sepehrrad, and Javad Vaziri, Samir Mohammad, Ammar Shafai, and Homayoun Nasser Sharif, Georgia resident Hossein Shamsai, Massachusetts residents Mahaz Nasseri and Hessein Sadeghpour, Kansas City’s Sajadi Sacid, Maryland’s Cyrus Samet and Mahmoud Tabassi, and San Diego’s Mohammad Bigdeli.


Suggest removal:

22SteubenvilleOhio(10 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

I use to like Jim, he was entertaining. IN his young years, he had a sparkle in his eyes. But after reading about the connections of murder in the local mob,thats just one step to far. I can't support anyone who kills.

If you have any info about how the Youngstown Mob and if it has connections in Jefferson county visit http://OHIOVALLEYNEWSPAPER.COM/

Suggest removal:

23YtownArtist(50 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

Hey Stuebenvile!! what are you? spokesman for the mob? Why don't you and you sorry little poe dunk town get some jewels and kick the mob out? quit boo hooing. sounds to me like you like the mob kicking your behinds all over that polluted river valley of yours. Dean would be ashamed!

Suggest removal:

24TB(1167 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

nice post davidjohn

who would want to be mafia don of Steubenville? it's a ghost town

Suggest removal:

25YtownArtist(50 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

the mafia is a zombie corpse feeding from its own rotting flesh. there is nothing left. someone please cut the head off the stinking carcass.....

Suggest removal:

26YtownArtist(50 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

it is a sad sad day for the mafia when all they have left is video machines and fireworks stands in stuebenville!

Suggest removal:

27keepnreal(3 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

Jimbo - Is a great man! he's not an a## kisser and tells it the way it is! He is all about action and later for just a promise. its a shame how the media is still driving his character in the dirt. His pride is what keeps him going and the feds know that they cant beat him!

Suggest removal:

28tnmartin(522 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

For more than 40 years I've watched this. It's ludicrous.
I watched for years as the folks at the Vindy figured who would win the election and then endorsed him.. They knew, or should have known, that the person was a thief.
I've watched somewhat sensible people vote for some of the most corrupt creeps ever, on the excuse that "he's a good friend of the working man". No, he's a good friend of the 'working grils', also known as prostitutes, and in some cases everyone knew it.
I've watched an unholy triad of corrupt union officials, corrupt officials of The Party (there is only one), played footsie with the Mobs (that to include not only the Pttsburgh and Cleveland factions, but also the Lebanese, the Russians, et al).
I've was involved in law enforcement years ago when Traficant was sheriff, and there wasn't a squad room in the tri-county area that didn't know he was crooked. I watched as people reacted to proof positive of his corruption, and sent him to Congress. Nine times. And would do so again.
Folks, much of the blame you can find in your mirror. You voted for these bums. You tolerated this behavior. You bowed to corrupt unions, and then followed idiocies like Commuter Aircraft Corp., Airship Enterprises, and a raft of other cockamamie schemes that were designed to soak the rubes. And never learned. You voted the straight Democrap ticket, knowing that these clowns were either thieves themselves, or tolerated them, which is just as bad.
And then you wonder why no big employers will come here. You wonder why the Valley is a laughingstock. You wonder why your children leave if they have any option.
Congratulations. You have managed to destroy a whole region.
I hope you are proud.

Suggest removal:

29author50(1121 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

Richard Nixon wouldn't have to resign in today's world.

Only the people of Mahoning County can reclaim the community... if they want too.

I don't think that they do.

Suggest removal:

30Youngstown_Strong(91 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

sorry USA1, your last comment was wrong... There used to be a Cleveland faction of the mafia with control in Youngstown but after one Crab brother died and another went to prison and the Danny Greene debacle wiping out Cleveland's power, the Cleveland faction lost any control in Ytown. From late 80's on, the power went soley to the Pittsburgh faction, run by Little Joey Naples & Lenny Strollo who then turned on each other.

By the time Paul Gains ran for prosecutor (1995), Little Joey was already whacked and all the power in the valley belonged to Strollo who was the sole representative from the Pittsburgh faction or any other mafia family for that matter. Gains ran against Strollo's boy Philomena and when Paul started gaining traction, Strollo tried to pay him off. Gains didn't want Strollo's bribes and after he won the election, they tried to kill him.

But I guess it doesn't matter for idiots like you USA1, who don't know the facts but pretend to, and who try to smear honest people's names.

Suggest removal:

31PresleyPhilomena(3 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

Listen Bertram. I've told you time and time again to leave my Dad's name out of your mouth and papers. My Dad is dead in case you forgot and he's not here to defend himself. He screwed up, and he paid his debt to society. Get the hell over it. Move on. You really have no respect at all. And as for you, Youngstown Strong, get your damn facts straight before you post something. My Dad had no affiliation with Lenny Strollo. So don't even try with that "Strollo's boy". Respect the dead and quit bringing the past up. Move on to something else. Sorry you have nothing better to write Bertram then to sit there and trash my Dad. You seriously need a life. LET MY DAD REST IN PEACE DAMNIT.

Suggest removal:

32Youngstown_Strong(91 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

USA1, your rampant speculation is hardly true. I'm going off proven facts. The Cleveland faction has no control in the Mahoning Valley -- not anymore. Their war with Danny Greene led to their loss of power. The remaining takers in Ytown from the Cleveland faction were either shotgunned, sent to prison or disappeared. This left the Pittsburgh side to the whole pie in Ytown and then they fought amongst themselves and lost control too.

Gains DIDN'T take money, he was shot for NOT TAKING MONEY. There was no one from the Cleveland side to give him money because the Cleveland side is obsolete in Ytown's profits. Why don't you do some research on these things?

Try a book: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0966...

or maybe a documentary: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1240548/

Suggest removal:

33Stan(9923 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

The days of many mafia factions in The Valley may be over but we still have mafia activity . They are savvy and well educated . There is still money that can be sucked out of The Valley by the vampires .

Suggest removal:

34walter_sobchak(2713 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

Let's see...Since Paul Gains wouldn't deal with the mob, a contract was put out on his life so that he could not take office and they would leave Jim Philomena in, at least temporarily, since he had a price to sell justice for all crimes, like the menu board at McDonalds. HE SOLD JUSTICE! At that point, the system collapsed and victims of crime and society were cheated.

Now, because Jim Philomena is deceased, we are to forget his despicable actions as prosecutor. If someone asks my forgiveness, I am obligated to forgive but not forget. If we don't remember history, we are doomed to repeat it. So every now and then, we must stroll down memory lane and revisit what the filth did to this area.

I am sorry that the family of Jim Philomena has to suffer continually for the sins of the father. Maybe Jim should have thought of that when he was selling justice and then lavishing himself and his family with the fruits of his ill-gotten gain. But, just because someone passes, it doesn't change what we say about them. A creep that dies is just a dead creep! Sure, they can no longer defend themselves but, what's to defend? Some dead deserve no respect!

Suggest removal:

35bystander(1 comment)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

3 accounts linking Philomena...

The Mafia Made Easy: The Anatomy and Culture of La Cosa Nostra - By Peter J. Devico: page 186, "Strollo even infiltrated the official political system of Youngstown. Using bribery and blackmailing tactics, he finagled huge kickbacks from public officials he had on the dangle. One such person was Mahoning Prosecutor James Philomena who was wired in tight with Strollo. According to official accounts, Philomena received substantial cash payments in exchange for looking the other way when it came to investigating organized crime in Youngstown."

Strollo gets shorter sentence for helping to rout out others by Patricia Meade (Vindicator. 1/28/2004): Strollo provided information about a number of unsolved homicides and about La Cosa Nostra activities in Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Detroit and New York, Morford said. Strollo also provided information that led to the convictions of former U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant Jr., ex-Mahoning County Judge Martin W. Emrich, ex-Youngstown Municipal Judge Andrew Polovischak Jr., three men involved in the Biondillo hit, ex-Mahoning County Sheriff Phil Chance, ex-Mahoning County Prosecutor James A. Philomena and others.

THE MAFIA CONSPIRACY THAT STUNNED AMERICA by J. R. de Szigethy: Strollo also confessed to his role in the shooting of Mahoning County District Attorney Paul Gains. This is the story the FBI had finally been able to piece together about this murder conspiracy: In 1996, Paul Gains defeated the incumbent Mahoning County District Attorney James Philomena, who then returned to private practice as a lawyer. Lenny Strollo had become involved with some drug dealers, one of whom, Lavance Turnage was arrested on charges of robbery and assault. Philomena and his associate, a disbarred attorney named George Alexander, told Strollo they could possibly ‘fix’ Turnage’s case with the Judge and in exchange wanted Turnage and his drug dealers to murder Paul Gains. While Philomena would not be named as the successor to Gains once he was murdered, Philomena hoped to use his influence to get another corrupt attorney named to replace Gains.

Suggest removal:

36PresleyPhilomena(3 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

All I'm going to say is that if you don't personally know him, shut your mouth. How about you all grow up and worry about your own families and lives and worry about stuff that actually concerns you. And by the way Walter, I do not appreciate you calling my Dad a creep because in my opinion, you're the creep. How big do you feel calling a dead man a creep?

Suggest removal:

37tnmartin(522 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

Let us not lose sight of the fact that these "connected" persons did a lot of damage to this community and to a lot of people in it. I know some of them personally. Possibly you do too. And some of the damage we will never add up. The jobs that were not created because someone couldn't buy a zoning change to start one, for example. I know personally a woman who never got to know her grandfather because he was murdered by the mobsters in Niles for not buying "protection".. Can you put an dollar figure on that loss? Those people, all through this Valley, have suffered, and will continue to suffer because we have tolerated among us those who were and are crooks and thieves. And that includes the fixers, the Party bosses and city councilmen and judges and county commissioners and union bosses. And the voters who continued to vote the straight Party line, knowing full well the strong connections between the Mob and the local Democrat Party. We all knew it. And went along, because 'that's just the way it is here". Look what it bought us.
Proud of yourselves?

Suggest removal:

38walter_sobchak(2713 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

Well, we both have opinions but I really don't care what you think!

James Philomena attended Catholic school, as I did, and sat in religion class. But, I guess he slept thru the parts about ethics and honesty. If someone asks me for forgiveness, I must oblige. But, I won't ever forget and I deserve to be compensated for your actions. If you steal $100 from me, get caught, and beg my forgiveness, I must forgive you. But, I want my $100 back.

When James Philomena passed his Bar exam, he took an oath that he would protect the interests of his clients regardless of profits. So, being an elected county prosecutor, I became one of his clients as a resident of Mahoning county. But, it is a well-established fact that he had a price for every crime that came before his office. So, every time he sold justice, he knowingly violated his oath. In my opinion, when an elected official violates the public trust, he is on a par with muderers, rapists, and thieves as the effects of their deeds is lasting and runs deep. We are not talking about having a couple of speeding tickets ripped up here. We are talking about serious felonious crime. James Philomena was dishonest, unethical, immoral, and a really poor dresser.

As to his legacy, it is unfortunate that the family has to suffer from the sins of the father. However, the family also enjoyed the benefits of the ill-gotten gain by living in a nice house, driving expensive cars, going on memorable vacations, and attending the best schools while the families of the victims of his unethical behavior suffer. Pardon me if I don't cry for you.

At this point, the best you can do I stop commenting, hang your head, and try to make this a better world. You think I am a creep. Maybe so, but when someone passes, it does not alter the facts of what they did on this earth. (Think Al Capone.) But, I know that I can look into a mirror and be satisfied with what I see. Did the Philomena house have any mirrors?

Suggest removal:

39Woody(492 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

How about Presley and family, take all the ill gotten gains from Jim's misdeeds, sell the assets, repay any bribe money used for education, vacations, etc, and donate the money to a worth while charity or two. Then we will agree to not bring his name up anymore.

Suggest removal:

40Youngstown_Strong(91 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

USA1, do you have any factual references you can share with us that support your claims that "Gains took mob money too"?

Suggest removal:

41joseph(59 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

The people that keep bringing up the cars, homes, clothes, and vacations are ridiculous. All it shows is the typical youngstown mentality....Jealousy. Just because you never have, and never will be able to live that lifestyle, don't throw it up in other people's faces.

Suggest removal:

42walter_sobchak(2713 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

I'm not jealous! I grew up poor in Youngstown, stayed out of trouble, got an education, became an engineer and am living my American dream. James Philomena had a very nice lifestyle also but chose to throw it all away! In the process, he victimized many families by SELLING JUSTICE! But, his family enjoyed the fruits of his ill-gotten gain. It's not jealousy; its outrage and disgust! Check post#42.

Suggest removal:

43joseph(59 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

Well it is nobody's business what people spend their money on.

Suggest removal:

44Youngstown_Strong(91 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

So please SHARE THIS PROOF with us!

Suggest removal:

45Nunya(1356 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

Wow this is a quandary,..

Here's a family member that as best I know can very possibly be one of the best individual people anybody could ever encounter.

Who's hearing of the absolute persona non grata sentiments. That will forever remain embraced and felt by the affected populous of a parent.

Who nothing less than preyed upon them and endangered all residents not family or criminally affiliated and thus forged those views and feelings of such great disdain for him.

Do I like it,.. NO.

No I don't like it via the way it hurts your feelings. But I'd only wished your deceased parent had valued such a compassion himself.

See because by the same token you can't expect people to not have great disdain and no respect for a deliberate criminal that acted in concert to assist ruining an area that a populous call home.

It's not just you I feel that way for everybody that's relegated to hearing the scorn of what a parent, sibling or significant other did.

For which I think your father and everybody else that favored crimes against people as opposed to displaying more respect. Are those whom should have been far more conscious, considerate and respecting.

Both for and about how his conduct would effect you and other family members as well as the populous they robbed, cheated and endangered.

Where I'm as independent as any other poster here that's in no way shape nor form associated with Vindy nor any of their subsidiaries.

But if it's any comfort to be impartial you have my word. That if I catch any other poster lying on your father or falsely blaming you. I'll certainly give the an opposing perspective that will check if not crush their ego.

See there's been some things vented here by some individuals I don't agree with and would otherwise loved to leave their perspectives in tatters.

But I've not found them to be lying and there's no defense for the indefensible. But by the same token that's no reflection upon you.

See I don't hold your fathers criminal indiscretions against you and I'll implore others don't either. But for that fact and in a manner of human decency and fairness.

The infractions of parents or any other family members actions aren't to be held against nor blamed on you or any other sibling or offspring.

I genuinely wish you well and hope you make more sound, savory and wholesome decisions than your father.

See it's not a sugar coating, coddling nor disparaging. Because I myself and all others share in that not bearing responsibility of a parents or siblings actions with you.

Because parents aren't perfect and as their children we're to utilize what we're able to learn from them. To aspire to be even better people as individuals making our own choices.

Where regardless of what they do and or did. We have the right to being scrutinized on our own merits. And like you we all have that task and opportunity,.. good, bad or indifferent.

Suggest removal:

46Nunya(1356 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago


You present yourself like an abominable fool that's on the wrong course in life.

If you dare think people are to accept being fleeced by criminals as some glorified manner of your presence rests in Hell already.

A couple years ago I bought one of my nephews a video game that he appeared to love and covet more than life itself. We went over his selfishness and slumping grades from slacking on homework.

We corrected those things but I took it from him when he had a little neighbor cry from not having one and my nephew taunting him telling him he couldn't play with his.

Sure I was saw as the bad uncle, Indian giver and likely a host of other names. But I got my point across and that point was I'll be damned if any good I do for him or anyone else is used as a humiliation tool against anybody else.

Never, place more value in material than you do people. Because where materialism's are merely monetary trinkets but people are absolutely priceless.

He's older now he's grasped that lesson and periodically during the holidays references to that lesson comes up. And just like he laughs as hard as I do about it now. To include after apologizing he's got his little friend back and he laughs about it too as a fixture within the family as a great kid we all love,.. it's not about me it's about we.

See where I know I'm tasked with assisting in his learning of values, respect and appreciation. It's evident nobody's teaching you a damned thing and life will make you pay dearly for it.

See it's those like you whom think materialism's are akin to self worth and endangering, robbing, killing and stealing from others is supposed to be fine, acceptable and preferred.

See via what I've learned in life via your own words you're a handout laden basket case. With no self esteem and man made materials is all it took to render you worthless.

You make it crystal clear there's no a damn thing those like you won't do for money and without man made goods you see yourself as nothing,.. that's the internal workings of every criminal that walks this earth.

See just like every other citizen, I hope Presley and every other offspring of a parent that hasn't done them any favor by tasking them with having to hear of how hated their parent is and or was.

Will make better citizens and recognize you as the absolute self serving, non respectable hell roosting rot that you yourself dispensed yourself as.

Suggest removal:

47joseph(59 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

All I'm saying is that nobody has a right to tell someone else how to make a living if they're not paying their bills. And for people to do so is out of exactly what I said before....Plain and simple jealousy.

Suggest removal:

48Youngstown_Strong(91 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

USA1, where's that proof that Gains took mob money?

Suggest removal:

49youngstowncutie(5 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

Hello Youngstown, I found a daily online black jack tournament www.GameOn247.com that can be played in Youngstown or any other locations. www.GameOn247.com is where you can play online tournament black jack for daily prizes. It’s a cool website that has a leader board for players to view their scores versus top scores. Play for free. Players with the highest points at the end of each tournament can win prizes.

Very cool website, open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Daily bj tournament lasts for one hour, plus new games coming soon!

www.gameon247.com daily tournaments.
Anybody played in Youngstown?

Suggest removal:

50Stan(9923 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago



First Lady Michelle Obama smiles while she visits Marbella, southern Spain.

the Obamas don't seem to be heeding their own advice.

Estimated room rate per night? Up to a staggering $2,500. Method of transportation? Air Force Two.

Transporting and housing the estimated 70 Secret Service agents who will flank the material girl will cost the taxpayers a pretty penny.

The Obama modus operandi is becoming clear. From lavish trips to Spain to reportedly flying Bo, the President's Portuguese water dog, on a separate aircraft to vacation with them in Maine, to a date night in New York City that perhaps cost nearly $100,000, their idea of austerity is really just the lap of luxury, at least for ordinary folks.

Incredibly, the Obamas have long portrayed themselves as precisely such commoners. Just this month, Obama told ABC the First Couple is "not that far removed from what most Americans are going through."

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/opinions/2...

Suggest removal:

51davidjohn(144 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

look at the 1st paragraph of this article

was gains standing in his kirchen or was he staggering in his kitchen as reported.

did he drive home that night having been at a bar

as a result did he misidentify the shooter and accused a county janitor

nothing justifies the attempted murder

but look at the people we elect to office

Suggest removal:

52Youngstown_Strong(91 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

OK USA1, I've read the same comment from you three times already... You "have proof Gains took mob money."

Until you can actually prove this, it is just slander. So again... SHARE THIS PROOF WITH THE REST OF US!

Suggest removal:

53joseph(59 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

The way law enforcement works in this area is a joke. Over the past 10 years or so this area has supposedly been cleaned up. The only people I see getting indicted and put in jail are the people with big names and a lot of money. Seems like more of a vendetta to me than anything else. Especially with such scum running around in every part of the city that you can't even walk down the street safely. You get punished for being successful in the Mahoning Valley....plain and simple. The Youngstown area, especially, is way worse now than it was before the supposed 'cleanup.'

Suggest removal:

54AXLE69(181 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

Youngstown Strong,I don`t know how long you have been trying to talk sense to USA1 aka usa0-Pro-Teabagger but you have to understand a few things about Hank.First is that he a first class wingnut who was essentially a teabagger years before the teabaggers were 'officially' formed by the GOP.

I see you have already discovered that facts and usa0 Pro-Teabagger have nothing in common.He deals in drivel also known as what he hears from Limpybaugh,Beck,Savage,Coulter and the assorted other wingnut media he gets all his wrong information from.

As you have noticed he is constantly railing about unions even though he was member of UAW 1112 at GM Lordstown from Feb.1984-July 2006 and greatly benefitted from the middle class lifestyle that resulted from the wages and benefits he received from the contracts negotiated between the UAW and GM. Sounds like a major league hypocrite eh Youngstown Strong? You betcha,to quote usa0 pro-teabaggers girlfriend Palin. Of course it`s no surprise he`s attracted to that dingbat.You know the old saying,"birds of a feather flock together" lol or in their case stupidity attracts idiocy.lol

Suggest removal:

55piak(508 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

Back in college, I had a Social Science prof who imparted this "wisdom" to us:

There will come an election when a group of "crusaders" will identify the incumbents as crooked and work hard to get elected. Twentyfive years later these "crusaders" wil bel the incumbents that NEW crusaders will be calling crooked.

He mumbled something about "history repeats itself". I never figured out his message. Did he mean there's a little larceny in each one of us? Or was he trying to tell us not to get caught? Or maybe, he was judging everybody by himself.

They are politicians, after all. They have to be all things to all people so they can get elected by as many people as possible. They need funds to run for office and this means they eventually owe "someone" or maybe "everyone". Repayment takes all kind of forms, not always cash, maybe favors?

This valley is no more crooked than anywehere else. Maybe its just that our politicians are more inept and more easily found out?.

Suggest removal:

56Youngstown_Strong(91 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

"I will in due time. I have a reliable source." --- That's what I thought USA1, you just heard it from someone. Typical right-winger, just repeats what he hears and calls it a fact. That is called hearsay and isn't worth a penny. You are a fool.

As for your other comments, don't put words in my mouth, it just makes you an even bigger fool.

You want to do a service to the Valley? Remove yourself :)

Suggest removal:

57Nunya(1356 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

Listen Stanley,..

You listen and listen good,..

See just because you've ruined yourself. To such a degree that you're not ever going to be elected president,.. of anything or anywhere relevant.

Just because you have a pigmentation of pelt hue that differs form the presidents. It's irrelevant and yet you somehow like to make it an issue.

Stanley you're no match for that man and no matter what color or gender you wake up possessing tomorrow. You're going to have to accept you're still going to be super stupid Stanley,.. no matter what.

To include not a single one of your cheap beer goggled or meth ravaged rejects budnicks. Are going to be hailed as suitable either,.. so drink up and finish yourself off.

But it's not just you it's any and everybody and or thing that's like you in manner of mayhem are duly of that distinctive non electable plight,... you screwed yourself up really, really bad Stanley.

See just accept you've made your choice[s] to be exactly what you've now evolved into becoming and it's all good for you Stanley,.. but just for you.

But the trade off of you abusing your unalienable right to do that to yourself. Is you will never EVER be sought, allowed nor presented as ambassador of our country,.. in any capacity.

Now you can take issue with that and try to prove me wrong if you'd like. For which just like this current president and all others.

You can announce your candidacy for office and be afforded the amenities of AF-1, AF-2 and exclusive rights to executive seal authority anytime you'd like.

But for some reason I detect you know what I'm telling you is so true. That we'll never have the privilege of witnessing you making a national spectacle of yourself,.. need a campaign strategist?

Oh the humility of it all and damn that Portuguese water dog huh Stanley,...ROTFFLMAO !!!!

Suggest removal:

58AXLE69(181 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

usa0 pro-teabagger,just like a typical teabagger,you can`t answer the question so you change the subject.What does Nemenz have to do with your hypocrisy? Nothing. I happy for you that you shop there and I also don`t give a damn.We want to know how you reaped ALL the benefits of being in the UAW yet now that you took the buyout( negotiated by the union) you spend your time there in Canfield bashing them online.Classic and idiotic as well.
Noone is afraid of you teabaggers or Palin.You will turn out to be the best thing for the country because you will destroy the Republican chances to win elections for the long term...The more you wingnuts keep yakking the better the chances that our great President serves another term.Is this a great country or what?LOL! Keep drinking the tea now ,ya hear?

Suggest removal:

59JCB1977(1 comment)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

All of you Youngstown dreamers need to see what an "IDIOT" Bertram de Souza is!!! The guy is still obsessed with the Mafia. Youngstown had no family, they had a few low level mobsters that ran the rackets for Pittsburgh and Cleveland. Strollo wasn't a "Boss," he was a soldier from Pittsburgh. Bert, it's been years since the mafia in Youngstown has existed--find some new material to write about!!!!! I would have fired you 10 years ago--write something of substance, not your rhetorical garbage about the mob. YOUNGSTOWN IS NEVER COMING BACK--Move out of the area, it's a ghost town with their hopes pinned on drunks like Kelly Pavlik and even bigger idiots like Mark Hanni. The city is a joke--let all the thugs kill each other, it's a better world without the welfare collecting punks dealing drugs and robbing liquor stores. The city is NEVER going to be a desirable place to live--EVER!!!!

Suggest removal:


HomeTerms of UsePrivacy StatementAdvertiseStaff DirectoryHelp
© 2016 Vindy.com. All rights reserved. A service of The Vindicator.
107 Vindicator Square. Youngstown, OH 44503

Phone Main: 330.747.1471 • Interactive Advertising: 330.740.2955 • Classified Advertising: 330.746.6565
Sponsored Links: Vindy Wheels | Vindy Jobs | Vindy Homes