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DE SOUZA ANALYSIS: Oakhillgate reinforces Valley’s image of corruption

Published: Fri, July 30, 2010 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Bertram de Souza (Contact)


The Vindicator columnist Bertram de Souza


Oakhill Renaissance Place

It was just about a year ago when thoughtful residents of the Mahoning Valley watched in dismay as the region’s political pariah, James A. Traficant Jr., returned home from federal prison to a hero’s welcome.

The red-carpet treatment he received attracted the attention of state, national and international reporters who all seemed to embrace the same story line: The Valley, with its history of organized crime and government corruption, doesn’t know the meaning of shame.

Indeed, Traficant, who had gone away for seven-plus years after being convicted of racketeering, bribery, tax evasion and seven other federal criminal charges stemming from his tenure as congressman, kept the story of his return alive. He went on national television to announce that he would run for Congress again. Fortunately, the incompetence of his disciples has prevented him from getting on the fall ballot.

But the sigh of relief from residents eager to shed the past and begin a new chapter on the political history of the Valley has now been replaced by a feeling of despair — prompted Thursday by the indictments of seven individuals, including two current officeholders and two former public officials in Mahoning County.

The charges against Commissioner John A. McNally IV, Auditor Michael Sciortino, ex-Treasurer John Reardon, who recently resigned from a state job, and John Zachariah, former director of the Job and Family Services agency, are the cause of our heartburn. The charges against business leaders Anthony M. Cafaro Sr. and his sister, Flora, and Atty. Martin Yavorcik make us angry.

To be sure, an indictment isn’t a sign of guilt, but reading the 73 counts leaves no doubt about the seriousness of the case. Those who dismissed the two-year investigation by the Ohio Ethics Commission as a fishing expedition have been proved wrong. The Ohio Ethics Commission’s probe followed the county’s purchase of Oakhill Renaissance Place, formerly South Side Medical Center, and the relocation of the JFS agency from the Cafaro-owned Garland Plaza. Two special prosecutors presented the findings to a special grand jury.

And the area’s corrupt underbelly is again exposed.


11970mach1(1005 comments)posted 6 years ago

"Fortunately, the incompetence of his (Traficant's) disciples has prevented him from getting on the fall ballot."

Not so fast, there. Might be board of elections' incompetence that should have never thrown him off the ballot in the first place.

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2PresleyPhilomena(3 comments)posted 6 years ago

can't WAIT to see what you write about my Dad this time scumbag. :-)

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31970mach1(1005 comments)posted 6 years ago

Appeal seeks spot on ballot
Traficant backers question petition rejections, votes

By RON SELAK JR. Tribune Chronicle
July 30, 2010


A fundraiser for the campaign of former congressman James A. Traficant will begin 2 p.m. Saturday at Pa Pa's Sports Bar, 1639 Poland Ave., Youngstown. Entertainment will be provided by Libby and her Tamburitzans. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased from Linda Kovachik at 330-788-8923.


(Traficant's appeal) questions 134 invalidated signatures in Mahoning County; 88 in Trumbull; and 10 in Portage, as well as the number of petition signatures Traficant was required to collect.

Traficant was required to collect signatures equal to 1 percent of the total votes cast in Ohio's 17th U.S. Congressional District in the 2006 gubernatorial election. The number of votes cast was determined as 219,926, meaning Traficant was required to collect 2,199 valid signatures.

However, miscalculated vote totals have been admitted recently by election boards in Summit, Mahoning and Portage counties.

Portage County reported a slight change of 26 votes cast due to a reduction of valid write-in ballots, said director Linda Marcial. ''We're glad we saw that and were able to correct it immediately,'' she said.

New numbers from Summit County show they miscalculated by 2,961 and by 1,531 in Mahoning, where elections board deputy director Joyce Kale-Pesta said the difference is between the total precinct vote and total vote for governor.

A message seeking comment left for Marijean Donofrio, Summit County Elections Board director was not immediately returned.

Taking into account the revised vote totals and rounding up, Traficant would have been required to collect 48 less valid signatures that originally thought.

The appeal takes it a step further, saying that correct figures in Mahoning and Summit counties are unknown because of difficulty in determining exact figures in three precincts split between congressional districts in Mahoning and 19 in Summit. Because votes are unknown with ''precise certainty'' in those precincts, the appeal argues the votes should not be counted.

The appeal argues the correct number of signatures is 2,072. Traficant's petitions produced 2,092 valid signatures, according to the certified petitions.

Traficant's bid was rejected on July 6 because he was 107 valid signatures short when 2,092 of the 3,128 signatures he submitted were certified valid.

The appeal also seeks reversal of 250 invalidated signatures and an explanation of a missing or a reporting error in the correct number of received petitions in Mahoning County.

It claims Mahoning County received 70 petitions; however, copies of only 69 were returned to the Traficant campaign for review.

The district includes parts of Trumbull, Mahoning, Portage and Summit counties.

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4author50(1121 comments)posted 6 years ago

Presley Philomena should be forced to listen to the familes of all the victims of the mass killings that her father helped get off the hook so she could attend private schools, wear nice clothes, go to proms, eat out at fancy places, etc.

Bertram... too bad you and the paper always sided with passing the sales tax (any tax for that matter), ignoring Peat-Marwick, dismissing The Accountability Task Force and riding shot gun for the likes of Mike Morley, Vicki Sherlock, Leo Jennings, et al.

It isn't until the accident takes place that you and the paper get "shocked" at what just happened.

Don't expect much to change if the current elected officials are guilty and resign. Who pulls the strings for the replacements... those wonderful democratic precinct people who gave us the likes of the aformentioned Miss Vicki.

Here's a tip Bert... take a look at the roster of precinct people who made up the voters in 2000, when Sherlock was installed over Debbie Taylor (and others) and compare that roster to the precinct people just elected in 2010. There are about 30 new faces. You think reformers are going to get in... hardly!

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5davidjohn(144 comments)posted 6 years ago


you and the Vindicator fed the monster all these years

you supported mcnally and sciortino when neither were qualified for their positions

you made fun of people like mr. zamary and mr. fitzer when they criticized the cafaro connections

so for you to act outraged is in itself outrageous

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6Woody(493 comments)posted 6 years ago


I think your Dad did all the talking for himself. The paper just reported it.

Did you think you were "ENTITLED" to the money, just like your Daddy did?

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7HaydenThomas(208 comments)posted 6 years ago

As Author50 points out, the Philomena posting is hilarious. Presley is still in denial.

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81970mach1(1005 comments)posted 6 years ago

Pretty shocking that Philomena's daughter (if it is really her) would come here throwing stones. Wow.

And DeSouza IIRC was actually critical of Sciortino's getting the auditor appointment.

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9davidjohn(144 comments)posted 6 years ago

"In the May 4 contest for the Democratic nomination for Mahoning County auditor, there is an incumbent who has been in office since September 2005, and a challenger who lacks the credentials to be the chief financial officer"

sciortino went to law school on taxpayer time as head of the Board of Elections

is that a crime?

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10walter_sobchak(2728 comments)posted 6 years ago

Presley Philomena (if that is truly you),

What else could be written about Jim Philomena? As a public official, he is the scum that scum wipes from the bottom of their shoes. The best that can be said about him is that he is deceased and can no longer hurt the people of Mahoning County. HE SOLD JUSTICE! Why bring up old dirty laundry? Let it lie. May God have mercy on Jim's soul because what he did was despicable!

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111970mach1(1005 comments)posted 6 years ago


Here is what you disingenuously left out from their endorsement of Sciortino:

"It is unfortunate that the Democratic primary did not attract an opponent for Sciortino with the credentials and qualifications to serve as the county’s chief financial officer. But there is still an opportunity for an individual who is a certified public accountant or someone with expertise in government accounting to step forward. The filing deadline for independent candidacies is May 3."

So they basically said he did some good, they wished someone qualified was running against him in the Dem primary, and hopefully someone qualified will run against him as an IND. Furthermore they said they'd withdraw their endorsement of him if indicted, and they have called for him and McNally to resign.

Just because they called out D'Apolito for his shortcomings, and praised Sciortino for his accomplishments, does not mean they are giving Sciortino a free ride. In fact, they have done nothing of the sort.

As far as law school, if what you say is correct, no it is not illegal. First, if you are correct, he probably went at night. Second, there is no law for most office heads having to be at work for a specified time. Just ask Tony Vivo.

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12davidjohn(144 comments)posted 6 years ago

sciortino did not go to night school
excuse that

the vindicator and bertram have supported the status quo throughout the years
dispute that

what were mcnally's qualifications
by the way how did that work out for the community
applaud that

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13Silence_Dogood(1677 comments)posted 6 years ago

"can't WAIT to see what you write about my Dad this time scumbag. :-) "

I think it should have read,

can't WAIT to see what you write about my scumbag Dad this time. :-)

Oh well we all make typing errors.

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