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Sciortino, McNally claim right to Valley trial

Published: Fri, December 10, 2010 @ 12:10 a.m.


Mahoning County Auditor Michael Sciortino


Mahoning County Commissioner John McNally

By Peter H. Milliken



The two incumbent Mahoning County officeholders under indictment in the Oakhill Renaissance Place criminal conspiracy case insist they have a constitutional right to be tried here, where their alleged crimes were committed.

Auditor Michael V. Sciortino, who was re-elected with 55 percent of the vote Nov. 2 despite being under indictment, and Commissioner John A. McNally IV asserted their position in a Nov. 30 court filing by their lawyers, which was made public this week.

Atty. John B. Juhasz represents Sciortino, and Atty. Lynn A. Maro represents McNally.

“These defendants are entitled to a trial in this county by an impartial jury, a personal constitutional right that they intend to enforce. They are entitled to the assistance of the court in ensuring that right,” Juhasz and Maro wrote.

Juhasz and Maro were referring to the right of defendants to be tried in the jurisdiction where their alleged crimes were committed, which is articulated in the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Juhasz and Maro were arguing in favor of the September order from visiting Judge William H. Wolff Jr. that nonroutine pretrial documents in the Oakhill case be filed under seal so the judge can review any objections from the parties to the case and screen the documents before making all or parts of them public.

Judge Wolff said he issued that order to avoid having pretrial publicity bias potential trial jurors.

In a Monday hearing, Marion H. Little Jr., the lawyer for The Vindicator and 21 WFMJ-TV, argued to unseal bills of particulars and a motion by Cafaro Co. interests to dismiss the indictment, saying the free-press right in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the fair-trial right in the Sixth Amendment weigh equally.

If the defendants can’t get a fair trial in Mahoning County, the remedy would be to move the trial to another county, he argued.

The Cafaro motion to dismiss and the special prosecutors’ response to it were unsealed this week, but the bills of particulars the prosecutors have filed detailing the charges against Sciortino, former county Treasurer John B. Reardon and John Zachariah, former county Job and Family Services director, remain sealed.

To safeguard the defendants’ due-process right, which is articulated in the Fifth and 14th amendments to the U.S. Constitution, Juhasz and Maro wrote that a trial judge has a duty to minimize the effects of prejudicial pretrial publicity.

Little said, however, the Sixth Amendment is made applicable to the states through the due-process clause of the 14th Amendment, and the free-press and fair-trial issues are fundamentally First and Sixth Amendment issues, respectively.

“The citizens of Mahoning County, if insulated against innuendo that may cause them to prejudge the matter, can afford these defendants a fair trial,” and can be the kind of impartial jurors “that due process commands,” Juhasz and Maro said.

“A change of venue presents numerous costly practical problems, such as transportation of witnesses to and from the trial,” and extra costs for parties to the case and their lawyers, Juhasz and Maro wrote.

Sciortino is charged with engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, bribery, filing a false financial disclosure statement with the Ohio Ethics Commission, soliciting or accepting improper compensation, and two counts each of conspiracy, perjury, and conflict of interest.

McNally is charged with engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, bribery, disclosure of confidential information, soliciting or accepting improper compensation, two counts each of conspiracy and conflict of interest, and three counts of perjury.

McNally, Sciortino, Reardon and Zachariah are among eight defendants charged in the indictment with conspiring to impede the move of JFS from Cafaro Co.-owned rented quarters on the city’s East Side to Oakhill.

Oakhill is the former Forum Health Southside Medical Center, which the county bought in 2006 and to which JFS moved in 2007.


1author50(1121 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

Here is the jury that the defendants are demanding for their trial-

Forewoman - Clair Maluso.
Juror#1 - John McNally's Father
Juror#2 - John McNally's Mother
Juror#3 - Mike Sciortino's wife
Juror#4 - Mike Sciortino's oldest child
Juror#5 - John Reardon's brother
Juror#6 - Anthony Cafaro Jr.
Juror#7 - Jethro Bodine
Juror#8 - Marydee Costanzo
Juror#9 - Clarence Smith
Juror#10-Mike Morley
Juror#11-Lenny Strollo

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2Stan(9923 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

I can see their point . It would be harder to put the squeeze on jurors from another area . The Valley is like Burger King . They can have it their way .

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

"Auditor Michael V. Sciortino, who was re-elected with 55 percent of the vote Nov. 2 despite being under indictment,"

They also believe that the residents have given them the right to do as they please . To them the law is just for the little people .

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4Photoman(1237 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

Did I just see JFS for the third time in one edition of this paper? Golly, do you think an investigation would reveal other problems?
They have a right to a jury of their peers, however, I do not believe a peer must necessarily be from the same locale.

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5whitehawk(8 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

Constitution: To trial by an impartial jury from the state and district in which the events took place[1] where the issue in question is either a natural right[1] or property worth more than $20.
When will we be informed of what all these charges are? The charges were kept covered up untill after the election. What the excuse now?

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6Cassie(88 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

It will be interesting to see how this whole expensive business plays out. I am finding it difficult to believe that public servants who in good faith opposed the purchase of Oakhill are guilty of criminal conspiracy--it seems more like a political vendetta to me. I understand that Tablack tries to make any opposition to him a criminal offense. I do not understand why the criminal offense is fashioned as opposition to moving JFS to Oakhill. McNally and Sciortino made no secret of their opposition to the purchase of Oakhill and had good reasons for that opposition. Will public servants be intimidated into not opposing an action that they deem not to be in the county's best interest?

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7HaydenThomas(208 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

Hey censoredship, you really wonder why they want a local jury? Remember Sciortino just got reelected even under indictment. I suspect they're hoping for mostly Mooney and Ursuline grads as jurors. They certainly don't want a jury made up of smart people who think corruption is bad when they can have a jury of dummies who think corruption is the norm.

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

Cassie :

The Cafaro Enterprise stood to lose a lot of money when JFS made plans to move to Oak Hill . As a result of this the McGuffy Mall is now worthless . It will be interesting to see the evidence of their attempt to stop the move played out in court .

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9Nunya(1356 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

@ johnyoung

Do explain

See reader to reader via your contention you and I disagree quiet measurably here. So in public discussion I think it'd be very interesting to hear your correlating the definitions of your usage. As to how " antics " are applicable in regards to that band of the Vindicator and others in the press.

Whom are merely proceeding to present, protect, defend and preserve public access to due process. As well as their own professional ability to be able to present facts in regards to all public interests.

So with respect for differing perspectives that's of interest. As well as how your expressed belief that the press and or the Vindicator should step back on any of that?

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10Nunya(1356 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

@ Cassie

Lets provide some answers here,..

See this { your questions } are exactly why there's a imperative need for transparency here. See it's not just your contention as to infuse an angle that's not supported by requite fact it's any and all of them.

To wit clearly transparency would combat all the blind assertions of questionable character, suspect motive and or pro or con spin. Not from one but from either the side of those whom are inclined to believe the defendants are innocent or guilty. Or of the inclination that the prosecutions charges are spot on enforceable or non criminally baseless.

See this isn't about if you, I or another likes or dislikes any of the parties associated in this criminal proceeding. Be it known Vindy is being opposed by some for merely wanting transparency. Even in spite of the fact that Vindy actually still endorsed the only criminally indicted defendant in this case that was up for re-election,.. that would be Michael V. Sciortino

So lets agree to support transparency of due process in this case. That will allow us to read the charges, defense motions, hear the testimony, evaluate evidence and allow all that to determine the final verdicts.

Where just like reiterating that the purchase of Oakhill as a county owned facility isn't on trial here. I'd also believe that if any of the defendants thinks Mr. Tablack or any other individual[s] influentially associated with or acting in first hand position of decision making empowerment. That opposed JFS county services remaining over on garland was criminal they'll present that to assert their claim of innocence.

Thus no matter what Vendetta or hidden agenda's of personal or professional dislike or disagreement comes into play here. Transparency in how the courts navigate with make those preponderances moot with allowing both prosecution and defense equal footing to present their cases.

But you won't accomplish that by any allowing of records, motions or charges. To be or remain withheld from the populous that's not only affected by this. But has been, are and will continue to be paying for it,.. both figurative AND literally.

That's aside from, atop of, beyond and along with it being the constitutional right by law for that populous to have non-obstructed access to said articles.

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11ideliver(3 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

How much money has been spent on Oakhill to date?

Is it 7 or 8 or 9 or 10 million dollars? I have lost track.

Also, why did the county pay $80,000 to purchase Oakhill when it had been offered at auction months before for $1?

The real powers that be are taking our eyes off of the ball. Smoke and mirrors. These guys are pawns and we are being distracted and focusing on things that really don't amount to much.

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12seminole(476 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

Nunya, I typically disagree with you politically, but I am riding right along with you on this one! What we have is people trying to keep public information fron the public. Those that want records sealed and unavailable are those that support the criminal reputation of this area. Vindy is simply trying to attain the information so they can present it to the public so we can all prepare for the impending fiasco. What we will see later in these preceedings, maybe not until after this debacle has ended, that there will will be further criminal events. Evidence will be dismissed based on a judge with political interests to protect, so on, so forth. Vindy has every right to obtain documents.

As far as a fair trial, of course these two want it in Mahoning County: this is where they have everyone in their pockets. There will be an indirect relationship between each member of this jury and these defendants. They will receive an "fair" trail in that they will have paid-for jurors playing out a decision process to make it look like they are actualy sifting through the information and having difficulty making a decision, but will ultimately present a "not gulity" verdict on enough counts that neither get jail time or lose their positions of employment. This will be typical status quo for the Valley, I hate to say.

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131970mach1(1005 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

If I were one of the defendants, I'd want the trial in Mahoning Co.
Sciortino just got reelected under indictment, and there are plenty of people here who read paper who very much dislike Tablack and Gains. Just need one person out of 12 not to convict.

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14g2onice(17 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

I think that there is corruption, what have you done for me lately bartering going on in courtrooms in Bangladesh. what does it have to do with me being tackled by a sarasota florida deputy sherriff, my motorcycle being repo'd, my driver's license being suspended, a felony dui charge? what can prevent the rogue cop from doing this to me again in the future? nevermind what I did wrong, which was nothing. what can prevent the rogue cop from doing this to me again in the future?! Hello?! Thank You.

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15DJ0(72 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

..yeppers, lets keep it all in the local family. WHAT? Are ya stupid? This Christmas season imagine that every lighted candle you see in a window is really Diogenes. No, not here. Too many crooks in the stew.

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16g2onice(17 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

probably a case where a jury of mahoning valley citizens will acquit or has a hung jury over deciding these guys. it's like the movie copland if it ever went to trial instead of the classic shootout at the end of the movie. no way they will start putting guys who just win elections doing things they were ordered by judges to do in jail or prison. makes no sense. Mahoning valley is mostly working class, democrat. Strollo, Philomena, Traficant and some of the other cases of "high profile Mahoning Valley corruption?" as if the mahoning valley ever was, is or wil everl be high profile lol anyways?! those guys unfortunately were screwed by the legal system, it's like chinese marbles, yahtzee or... the legal system in the valley past verdicts, some current verdicts, and future verdicts, crazy, hopefully jurors will wake up and acquit or at least have a hung jury dismissal of charges (hung jury is probably the best thing then the agencies and the judge(s) involved-- the burden is more on them when there are hung juries)maybe the judges would be less interested in making citizens life outside of the court hell? some people have never been to court and have no interest in ever going to court, why does law enforcement, certain agencies, drag people into court? is what some jurors are looking for the answer to this... anyways... ridiculous... you don't even need a written marriage license to be legally considered married to somebody in Ohio, there is a time limit, I'm not sure what the "commonlaw" law is but live with somebody for a certain amount of time in the state of Ohio and u can be considered married to that person in the state of Ohio, just look it up online. I know for a fact a written marriage license is not a mandatory requirement for a couple to be considered married in Ohio, outside of that, what the hell does the system lol keep dragging people into court for? again, makes no sense! good question. lol before the jurors will be next to be on trial, instead of the jurors just being jurors. consider that next, is just as plausible. I would, in 2011... there is the internet, the paper, tv, smartphones, I'd watch who I would want to judge too harshly or sometimes even at all, as a citizen, in law enforcement, as an attorney, in any profession ,cause that stuff can come back on you if u choose to judge too harshly... sometimes juries never realize this, sometimes the trial judge fails to explain this or does the standard explanation of what the juror is to do during the trial, but it has happened-- people are selected as jurors then... anything can happen after that... so kind of like... what is the saying? Be careful what you wish for?

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