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Feds target J.J. Cafaro

Published: Tue, February 23, 2010 @ 12:10 a.m.

‘I made a mistake,’ he says of false campaign finance report.

By Peter H. Milliken


John J. Cafaro, the recently retired vice president of the Cafaro Co.


State Sen. Capri Cafaro (D-Liberty)

John J. Cafaro, the recently retired vice president of the Cafaro Co., will plead guilty to one count of making a materially false statement regarding a contribution to the unsuccessful 2004 congressional campaign of his daughter, Capri Cafaro.

First Assistant U.S. Atty. William J. Edwards filed an information Monday in U.S. District Court in Cleveland charging that the elder Cafaro caused an official of his daughter’s congressional campaign to falsely report he had contributed only $2,000 to her campaign, when, in fact, he actually gave an additional $10,000 in the form of a loan to an unidentified campaign staff member for the campaign’s benefit.

The offense reportedly occurred sometime between May 5 and July 15, 2004. The false filing was contained in a quarterly report to the Federal Election Commission, which must identify everyone contributing more than $200, the U.S. attorney said.

“Although I wanted to help my daughter in her campaign, I made a mistake for which I am solely responsible. As the investigation has determined, my daughter was not involved in any way,” Cafaro said.

“I sincerely regret any embarrassment or hardship I have caused my daughter and those who work with her. I am proud of her and what she has accomplished. Again, I take full responsibility for my actions, and I apologize for my actions,” he said in a prepared statement issued by his lawyer, Ralph E. Cascarilla of Cleveland.

Cascarilla said his client intends to plead guilty to the charge and would not comment further.

“His actions were his own,” Cascarilla said. “He did not inform any family members, the Cafaro Co. or his daughter of the loan made to a member of her campaign staff. The investigation into the matter has been completed,” Cascarilla said.

Capri Cafaro of Liberty, D-32nd, is now a state senator and Senate minority leader. She was appointed to the state Senate seat in January 2007, when Marc Dann left to become Ohio attorney general, and she was elected to that seat in 2008. Ohio Senate Democrats unanimously elected her minority leader in January 2009.

“My father made mistakes and has taken responsibility for them. This is difficult for me because, while he is my father and I care about him, I do not condone his actions. This is a regrettable situation, which is, thankfully, coming to an end,” the 32-year-old state senator said in a statement issued by Prism Public Affairs, a Washington, D.C, public-relations firm.

“I will continue to focus my time and energy on doing my job for the people as a member of the state senate. I am honored to work for the people of my district and approach my position with great seriousness and humility. I believe my constituents and my colleagues know me for my dedication to public service, integrity and transparency,” she added.

In the 2004 congressional race, her campaign spent $1.6 million but lost to then five-term Republican Steve LaTourette. In that race, she received 37 percent of the vote, and he won with 63 percent.

“I was not involved in this transaction, and I am extraordinarily disappointed with my father,” the senator said in an interview, referring to the loan.

“Unfortunately, he has made a habit over the years of doing things and not necessarily telling me about them,” she added.

Sen. Cafaro said she used the Washington public-relations firm because she wanted to avoid engaging state offices and personnel in a matter unrelated to her state legislative position.

The elder Cafaro, 58, of Hubbard, was subject to the $2,000 limitation on campaign contributions by individuals, the federal prosecutor’s information says.

The elder Cafaro and his brother, Anthony M. Sr., company president, retired at the end of 2009, and placed the company in the hands of Anthony’s sons, William A. and Anthony Jr., as co-presidents.

The filing of a bill of information typically means a person accused of a crime is cooperating with authorities and agrees to be found guilty of the charge.

An information may be filed only if the accused waives a grand jury indictment, as the defendant has done in this case.

The Cafaro Co. released a statement saying the federal criminal charge involves the former company vice president’s “personal activities and, in no way involves the Cafaro Co. or any of its affiliated entities.”

The case, which was investigated by the FBI, is assigned to U.S. District Judge John Adams in Akron. No arraignment has been scheduled yet. The charge is a felony carrying a penalty of up to five years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine upon conviction.

Based on the information, a source familiar with federal sentencing guidelines said Cafaro is likely to serve probation, possibly including electronically monitored house arrest, or up to six months in prison if the judge sentences in accordance with the guidelines.

This is John J. Cafaro’s second brush with federal authorities. In November 2002, U.S. District Judge Solomon Oliver Jr. sentenced him to 15 months’ probation and fined him $150,000 after he pleaded guilty to conspiring to provide an unlawful gratuity to former U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant Jr., who was expelled from Congress, served seven years in federal prison and was released last September.

“We never talk about what we might recommend for a sentence and why. We do that in open court,” Edwards said.

As to what sentence might be appropriate for her father, the senator said: “It’s really not my place to even speculate. ... The justice system has its own protocols to assess what the appropriate sentence is.”

John J. Cafaro is the third prominent local figure to be charged recently in an information with violating federal law.

Former Trumbull County Commissioner James Tsagaris and former Mahoning County Common Pleas Judge Maureen A. Cronin pleaded guilty to informations charging each of them with two counts of honest services mail fraud.

Tsagaris is serving nine months in federal prison for violating his probation by leaving home without permission while on house arrest.

Cronin will be sentenced at noon today by U.S. District Judge Sara Lioi in Akron.

Cronin and Tsagaris were charged with accepting and not making the state-required reports concerning loans of $18,000 and $36,551, respectively, from an unidentified local business executive.

Tsagaris voted on matters benefiting his lender, and Cronin presided over cases involving her lender’s company and its affiliates after she accepted the loan.


11970mach1(1005 comments)posted 6 years, 4 months ago

PROBATION!?!?!?! This is his second time around at felony public corruption. And just a few months after he got off of probation for his first violation. And a fine "up to $250,000"? Ooooooo... that will be rough, he is a billionaire for God's sake.

But don't worry, because Capri tells us her daddy did things "he didn't NECESSARILY" tell her about. So of course there would be no reason to think she had no knowledge of the money he was funneling into HER campaign.

Wasn't their spokesman, Joe Bell, just telling us how JJ's retirement was for no reason other than just to retire?


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2Stan(9923 comments)posted 6 years, 4 months ago

Teflon Don AKA JJ Cafaro has political clout that will not allow any serious penalty to be inflicted upon him .

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3UnionForever(1470 comments)posted 6 years, 4 months ago

JJ Cafaro needs to go to jail for what he did, second time around. Capri should resign her state senate seat. She had to know about a $10,000 contribution and where it came from. She couldn't be that dumb though sometimes I wonder. The don't call them Demostupid for nothing!!!

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4EliotNess_DC(86 comments)posted 6 years, 4 months ago

1) Members of the Cafaro 'crime family' just can't help it ...

2) For Rep. Traficant, the fun has only just begun.


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5HaydenThomas(208 comments)posted 6 years, 4 months ago

JJ says "I made a mistake". Actually JJ, you broke the law. Far more than just a mistake. Not only that but your actions were premeditated and intentional. No worries though, money can buy freedom, politicians, and elected office.

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6steelerman09(111 comments)posted 6 years, 4 months ago

He will walk free! No questions asked.

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7Silence_Dogood(1670 comments)posted 6 years, 4 months ago

Capri (Veruca Salt) Cafaro stated

"“Unfortunately, he has made a habit over the years of doing things and not necessarily telling me about them,”

She was talking about her Dad the Felon, the very person that purchased her a seat in the Ohio senate after another CROOK went on to higher office.

Varuca Salt from Willy Wonka fame gave the famous line "Daddy I want it NOW" referring to the Golden Ticket. .In real life Capri Veruca Salt Cafaro wanted to be in Congress but alas a sticky widget got in the way ( the voter), and just like in the movie, poor poor Capri did not get to go to Congress. Unlike the movie in real life dear old Daddy and an Uncle used thier influence to get her a seat in the Ohio Senate. And now she wants us to believe that she had no knowledge about her DADDY and $ 12, 000.00 Dollars in HER campaign war chest.. Varuca Cafaro we are not that stupid . And we know that the apple does not fall far from the tree.

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8Silence_Dogood(1670 comments)posted 6 years, 4 months ago

Meanwhile back in the real world , the new definition of LOAN is, "AN ILLEGAL CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTION, or an alternitive meaning is BRIBE.

At least that is the position taken by First Assistant U.S. Atty. William J. Edwards
One wonders of he owns a Webster's Dictionary.

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9Stan(9923 comments)posted 6 years, 4 months ago

"The Cafaro Co. released a statement saying the federal criminal charge involves the former company vice president’s “personal activities and, in no way involves the Cafaro Co. or any of its affiliated entities.”

So who would Capri's election benefit ? With Capri being elected surely she wouldn't favor the Cafaro Company on any legislation .

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10Silence_Dogood(1670 comments)posted 6 years, 4 months ago

Corruption and corruptionist seems to be a Family Affair with these people.

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11themanwhoknows(2 comments)posted 6 years, 4 months ago

The Cafaro family has corrupted the political process in this valley for the last 40 years. Who can forget the notorius Saturday meetings at the Belmont Ave. office of Big Bill where he told his pions what he wanted done. Nothing has changed in this valley because you keep electing officials, who as on mob guy once said, "are bought off for a pizza." Only now the cost has increased substantially. Ever wonder why the same people keep getting elected. Some even change jurisdictions and still continue the same old same old. I hope the Feds really dig deep, but that isn't going to happen. They scratch the surface, make some headlines then fade away for a couple of years. Jimbo, J.J., and all the rest of them should hang their heads in shame. If JJ's daughter had any real integrity she would resign. We all know how she got the position. But as sorry as I am to admit it, the people keep voting these people into office. Please do your homework and vote sensibly or at least make sure you get your pizza.

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12watchingthepolitics(100 comments)posted 6 years, 4 months ago


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13Stan(9923 comments)posted 6 years, 4 months ago

Right now the Cafaros have the upper hand in The Valley . I see no scenario where their power will be limited .

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14nojimbo(286 comments)posted 6 years, 4 months ago

Here's a thought --- 50 people every day marching and yelling "Get out of town" on the sidewalk outside the Belmont Avenue corporate office. Hey Joe Bell, former local "investigative" reporter, how do you sleep? All personal credibility gone.

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15mrblue(1175 comments)posted 6 years, 4 months ago

And people still wonder why Y-town gets bad press in national magazines. This will definately hurt Capri in her next election, should she run again.

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16vinglass(295 comments)posted 6 years, 4 months ago

Joe Bell and his "press releases" are so full of crap. How can this former reporter look in the mirror without shame and embarassment at what he has become...

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17timOthy(802 comments)posted 6 years, 4 months ago

mrblue, What she didn't know the difference between $10,000.00 and $2,000.00 ? You can tell she's family !

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18EliotNess_DC(86 comments)posted 6 years, 4 months ago

The only 'evidence' that J.J. bribed Traficant (allegedly with one month's pay) is J.J.'s word ... in exchange for which J.J. never did a day in jail for his confessed perjury, and for which Capri and he were not indicted for their US Aerospace shell company in Washington, DC which was whistle-blown by J.J.'s employee, the patent-holding Top-Secret-cleared test pilot Richard Detore. (Detore's laser landing technology is used by Navy aircraft carriers and the Presidential helicopter.)

Who should Youngstown believe? J.J. and Capri? Or Traficant and Detore?

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19EliotNess_DC(86 comments)posted 6 years, 4 months ago

Another observation.

It would do J.J.'s health a world of good to have to eat prison food for six months.

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20computer_rick(137 comments)posted 6 years, 3 months ago

"I'm alright, don't nobody worry 'bout me!

You don't have to give me advice, why don't you just let me be!"

Gopher's Theme

(kind of looks like the Gopher, doesn't he?)

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21computer_rick(137 comments)posted 6 years, 3 months ago

Also, I thought the Cafaro company's Board put J.J. in charge of like, nothing, after his last few stupid business decisions / failed investments.

You know, your basic "Here's your office, here's your phone, thank God everyday your Pop left you his money, now don't do anything stupid..." type position.

So what is he retiring from, exactly?

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22Stan(9923 comments)posted 6 years, 3 months ago

EliotNess_DC :

"Another observation.

It would do J.J.'s health a world of good to have to eat prison food for six months."

JJ's supporters would see that as cruel and unusual punishment . The smart money says that JJ will do no jail time . House arrest at the worst .

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23EricDP(14 comments)posted 6 years, 3 months ago

Isn't it funny how he "Retired" so early. He Knew it was Coming. I am just WAITING for MORE to come out.

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24hubbardguy(32 comments)posted 6 years, 3 months ago

When he sudenly "retired" we all knew something was up.

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25HOWARD307(12 comments)posted 6 years, 3 months ago

I am TIRED of associating Italian Americans across the board with some of these posts, The Cafaro Co, has done more GOOD in the valley that are "silent" and not for "show"
So has the DeBartolos, and many other Italian American Businesmen and private citizens, who don't want publicity, just giving to needy organizations is self fulfilling.
JJ HAS pleaded and will pay his debt, he didn't try to manipulate the system using his "cronies" as some of you have assumed.
Let's look at the MURDER rate and black on black crimes and huge drug problems in Y-Town. 8 already this year and counting, 3 the same time last year!
THIS keeps the Valley on the "keep away" list for investment and business relocation. Would you want to bring in a company with a city that has a murder rate like this? It seams to me the JJ "thing" has NO bearing on atracting businesses --- MURDER and DRUGS and ROBBERY do have a impact on the out of town decision makers.

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