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Senator defends felon’s help with campaign effort

Published: Sat, November 6, 2010 @ 12:09 a.m.

By David Skolnick



A campaign volunteer for state Sen. Joe Schiavoni is a convicted felon once identified by the FBI as a mob associate.

Schiavoni said he is aware of Leo Connelly Jr.’s criminal past, but the campaign volunteer served his time in prison and deserves a second chance. A photo of the two in The Vindicator’s Wednesday election coverage drew phone calls from readers.

“He’s one of those guys who volunteers, and you can’t fire volunteers,” Schiavoni said. “He was in jail in the past and had some issues. He wanted to work the polls. He paid his debt to society.”

Connelly handed out literature at polling locations Tuesday for Schiavoni, of Canfield, D-33rd, elected to a four-year term in the state Senate.

Connelly served nearly six years in a Pennsylvania prison on a burglary conviction and was released in 1996.

An FBI affidavit from 1998 described him as an enforcer and bag man for mob bosses Joseph Naples and Lenny Strollo. In 1998, Connelly denied the allegations but said he was a friend of Strollo’s.

Strollo was indicted in 1997 on Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations violations of aggravated murder, casino-style gambling and numbers lottery. He was believed released in 2008.

Connelly also was arrested in 1979 in Miami on charges of bookmaking. He also was arrested in 1987 by Niles police when he and five other men were found in a truck with $45,415 worth of stolen furs. The disposition of that case isn’t clear.

Attempts by The Vindicator on Friday to contact Connelly by telephone were unsuccessful.

Connelly’s assistance in Schiavoni’s campaign came to light after The Vindicator published a picture in its Wednesday edition of Schiavoni with campaign staffers and volunteers, including Connelly, celebrating his victory. Nearly all of them, including Connelly, are wearing Schiavoni T-shirts in the photo. That photo drew some reader inquiries.

Schiavoni, an attorney, said Connelly was a worker’s compensation client of his father, who’s also an attorney. That’s how they first met, Schiavoni said.

“I didn’t know him in his past life,” Schiavoni said. “I found out he had a past. He wanted to help and do a good thing and be a regular member of society. I didn’t make a big stink out of it.”


1jkf573(12 comments)posted 4 years, 6 months ago

It's not reasonable to expect a candidate to vett the background of each and every volunteer in a campaign of any size. Nice reporting on this story, Vindicator. Now, let's move on. And as one of Sen. Schiavoni's opponents in the late election, you won't find anyone more objective about this than I am.

--John Fockler

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2timOthy(802 comments)posted 4 years, 6 months ago

That what this country is about isn't it? The man paid his debt period! It's not like he was Nixon!

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3Lifes2Short(3879 comments)posted 4 years, 6 months ago

"A photo of the two in The Vindicator’s Wednesday election coverage drew phone calls from readers."

Seriously people, PLEASE GET A LIFE! Geez.

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4piak(508 comments)posted 4 years, 6 months ago

timOthy: I agree with you but let's leave Nixon out of this. RMN's "crime" was that he was paranoid. If this had been discovered or brought out in the open, he might not have been ever elected.

I agree with you that the volunteer paid his debt and like you I think this is what this country is about.

What's nice is his opponent even said this was no issue and we should move on.

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5republicanRick(1401 comments)posted 4 years, 6 months ago

Typical Youngstown'ers stupidity -- the guy is a convicted felon and Schiavonni's obligation is to stay away from him, especially considering Youngstown's reputation for crime. The guy paid his debt but still Schiavonni should not allow him at the campaign. Schiavonni shows a shocking absence of good judgement.

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


Longtime Boss was Dominick Mallamo, Consigliere of the Pittsburgh Family under John LaRocca and Mike Genovese, died in 1987, he was the uncle of Jimmy Prato, who took over with Joey Naples upon Mallamo's death. Prato died in 1988 and Youngstown was left under the control of two rival crews: The Joey Naples Crew, which consisted of Ernie Biondillo (killed in June 1996), Frankie Lentine, Bobby Poghen, Pauly Holovatik, Gary Goodrich, Peter Cascarella, Mike and Joey Serrecchio, Tommy Peters, Sam Vona and his brother, Jimmy Naples. The 2nd crew is the Lenny Strollo crew, which consisted of Larry Garono, Bernie "The Jew" Altshuler, Dante Strollo (who was never made), Patsy Ferrucchio, Nick "The Greek" Frangopolous and the Dinsio brothers, Amil and Charlie, and Leo Connelly.

Ronnie "The Crab" Carrabbia has been out of prison and moved to Florida next to his multi-millionaire son who made a fortune in real estate and is owner of Sky King Fireworks, Ronnie Jr.

From the Cleveland Family, Charlie, Ronnie, and Orlie Carrabbia controlled Northern Mahoning County until the 80's, when Naples went on a killing spree and wiped out Cleveland, while Charlie the Crab disappeared, Ronnie the Crab went to prison for 27 years for the Danny Greene hit (released in 2002) and Orlie retired with a ton of cash to Florida. Ronnie the Crab was the only "made" member from Cleveland representing Youngstown. His crew consisted of Butchie Cisternino, both his brothers, Nick Polito, and Dominick Senzarino, who was shotgunned to death in his own garage in 1980

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7Stan(9923 comments)posted 4 years, 6 months ago


Sky King Fireworks, Inc.
Incorporated by Joseph Vanoudenhove, Raymond Guerra, Ronald Carabbia, William G Micco, Sky King Fireworks, Inc. is located at 7350 S US Highway 1 Port Saint Lucie, FL 34952. Sky King Fireworks, Inc. was incorporated on Monday, May 07, 2001 in the State of FL and is currently active. Rickey L Farrell represents Sky King Fireworks, Inc. as their registered agent.

Source: Public Record data - Department of State - Division of Corporations.

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8JerryP(19 comments)posted 4 years, 6 months ago

A volunteer handing out literature at a polling location and being photographed wearing a Schiavoni T-shirt are hardly newsworthy events.

Mr. Fockler, the Libertarian candidate who ran for the 33rd District Senate seat put it best – “let’s move on.”

Of course there will be a few partisan watchdogs who attempt to spin this matter, the one who has already posted on this thread could not even take enough time to learn how to correctly spell Senator Schiavoni’s name…

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

"The 2nd crew is the Lenny Strollo crew, which consisted of Larry Garono, Bernie "The Jew" Altshuler, Dante Strollo (who was never made), Patsy Ferrucchio, Nick "The Greek" Frangopolous and the Dinsio brothers, Amil and Charlie, and Leo Connelly. "

What interests is Sen. Joe Schiavoni representing ? So Leo have ya talked to Lenny lately ?

Is Sen. Joe Schiavoni tainted ?

taintedpast participle, past tense of taint (Verb)1. Contaminate or pollute (something).
2. Affect with a bad or undesirable quality: "his administration was tainted by scandal".

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10walter_sobchak(2092 comments)posted 4 years, 6 months ago

Wait a minute! This is news?!?!? We have a Mahoning County Democratic cadidate running for office and there is only ONE convicted felon helping him with his campaign? This shows you just how bad the local economy is.

"Mssr. Rick, I am shocked, SHOCKED, to find out there is gambling going on in this establishment!"

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11Stan(9923 comments)posted 4 years, 6 months ago


Procedural History

This matter comes before the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) Independent Hearing Officer (IHO) pursuant to the LIUNA Constitution and the Ethics and Disciplinary Procedure (EDP).

On March 29, 2000, Disciplinary Charges were filed by the LIUNA General Executive Board Attorney (GEB Attorney) against Leo H. Connelly (Connelly), a member of LIUNA Local Union 935. The GEB Attorney’s charges against Connelly are based entirely on facts that were adjudicated before the Independent Review Board (IRB) of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT). The IRB’s Opinion and Decision found that Connelly had brought reproach upon the IBT by knowingly associating with La Cosa Nostra (LCN) member Lenine “Lenny” Strollo (Strollo) in violation of the IBT Constitution. GEB Attorney Exhibit (GEB Ex.) 2, In re: Leo H. Connelly, Jr. IBT Local 377, Opinion and Decision of the Independent Review Board (September 21, 1999). The EDP has a similar provision which prohibits any LIUNA member from knowingly associating with an organized crime member and/or associate. The GEB Attorney’s charges allege that Connelly committed barred conduct under the EDP by knowingly associating with Strollo, an alleged organized crime member and/or associate.

The IHO held a hearing in this matter via telephone on June 15, 2000. Connelly was properly notified of the hearing, but failed to appear.

On September 11, 1988, Connelly was arrested by the Hermitage, Pennsylvania Police Department and charged with burglary, possession of criminal instruments, unlawful theft, and criminal trespassing. On June 6, 1990, Connelly was convicted and sentenced to six to twenty years in prison. Connelly was paroled on June 26, 1996.

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12JerryP(19 comments)posted 4 years, 6 months ago

Stan - we can all see you have mastered the use of Google and the cut and paste function, are you actually going to offer any thoughts of substance or just spam this thread with irrelevant information in a desperate effort amounting to libel?

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

Now let us review this . . ..

Fact . . .. Connelly was paroled on June 26, 1996.

Fact . . .. On March 29, 2000, Disciplinary Charges were filed by the LIUNA General Executive Board Attorney (GEB Attorney) against Leo H. Connelly (Connelly), a member of LIUNA Local Union 935.

Leo H. Connelly is a known associate of Lenny Strollo . His association with Sen. Joe Schiavoni is not without its merits .

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14Stan(9923 comments)posted 4 years, 6 months ago


" JerryP (7 comments) posted 6 months, 4 weeks ago

Senator Schiavoni is exactly the type of political leadership desperately needed by the 33rd District. I know Joe well and I know that he has nothing but the best interests of his hometown, his District and those whom he represents in mind."

Since Joe has been re-elected we will just have to wait and see just what he brings upon The Valley .


" McTide (10 comments) posted 6 months, 3 weeks ago

I must admit I was a bit skeptical of Schiavoni, him being a Mahoning County lawyer, spawned by Mahoning County lawyers with the Cafaro stamp of approval"

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15cambridge(3243 comments)posted 4 years, 6 months ago

I heard there was a convicted felon somewhere in Ohio who only recently got out of jail that was RUNNING for congress. Thankfully he lost to some guy they call Timmy.

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16Stan(9923 comments)posted 4 years, 6 months ago

The pieces of the puzzle . . ..


"McTide (10 comments) posted 2 months, 3 weeks 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."

As the strands are woven . . ..

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17JerryP(19 comments)posted 4 years, 6 months ago

Again, you are spouting off irrelevant information in a rather passive-aggressive attempt to defame someone. At best you are foolish, attempting to create an issue out of a non-event at worst you are libelous, leveling allegations in an ad-hominem attack.

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18Stan(9923 comments)posted 4 years, 6 months ago

Ah Jerry, what do you infer from all this public information ?

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19JerryP(19 comments)posted 4 years, 6 months ago

All that I can infer from your incoherent cut and paste “investigation” is that you are vainly attempting to spin together some sort of conspiracy theory based on a photograph of a volunteer wearing a T-shirt and a post I made six months ago.

Enjoy your afternoon of painting with broad strokes on vindy.com…

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20republicanRick(1401 comments)posted 4 years, 6 months ago

Fantastic investigative work Stan -- proves Schiavonni is in bed with the Cafaros and he associates with known "past" mob members. Schiavonni looks like an up and coming politician on the take - he should be watched closely; we don't need another crooked lawyer as a politician.

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21Stan(9923 comments)posted 4 years, 6 months ago

His own union threw him out for his association with Lenny Strollo . This was a mere four years after getting out of prison in 1996 . He was working for Lenny Strollo once again the same year that he was paroled .

Persona Non Grata


Following the criteria set out in Fallacara, Connelly’s “knowing association” with Strollo permitted organized crime to affect the affairs of LIUNA in the total atmosphere of the labor union operation.

As set forth below, the IHO concludes that Connelly’s association with Strollo related to the affairs of LIUNA.


1. Connelly committed barred conduct by associating with members and associates of the LCN.

2. Connelly knowingly associated with members of organized crime, thereby committing barred conduct under the EDP.

3. Under the Fallacara rationale, Connelly’s working relationship with Strollo and other LCN associates related to the affairs of LIUNA. Despite having been permanently barred from holding membership in the IBT, Connelly is a LIUNA member. LIUNA will not serve as a safe-haven for persons whose membership has been revoked from other unions. The presence of Connelly in LIUNA after having been barred from membership in the IBT for associating with a made member of the LCN will not only affect LIUNA’s integrity but will also affect management’s and law enforcement’s perception of LIUNA.


The charges have been proven by a preponderance of the evidence.


Connelly’s membership in LIUNA is permanently revoked. Connelly is permanently barred from holding an office in or being employed by Local 935 or from being an officer or being employed by any LIUNA affiliated entity or fund.

Connelly has a right to appeal this Order to the LIUNA Appellate Officer by filing a Notice of Appeal with the Appellate Officer within 10 days of the date of this Order.

This Order does not take effect until 10 days after the date of this Order, and if appealed, upon the decision of the Appellate Officer.


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22Stan(9923 comments)posted 4 years, 6 months ago


IRB Findings Regarding Connelly’s LCN Association

22. Following Connelly’s release from prison on June 26, 1996, Connelly was intercepted by court-authorized wire interceptions in contact with Strollo on eleven occasions. In addition, Connelly was intercepted on eight occasions leaving a message on the answering machine at Strollo’s home. Id.

23. On July 6, 1996, Connelly called Strollo’s residence and left a message that he was going to stop at Strollo’s home. Id.

24. The IBT credited and accepted an FBI report that stated that in 1996 Connelly was involved in the collection of a debt reportedly owed to Strollo from the family of the late Don Cook. In a July 6, 1996 intercepted conversation, Connelly and Strollo spoke about A.C. Cook, Don Cook’s brother. On July 20, 1996, Connelly and Strollo discussed the collection of the debt the estate of Don Cook reportedly owed to Strollo. Id.

25. According to the IRB, during sworn examination taken on November 5, 1998, Connelly testified that A.C. Cook approached Connelly and asked Connelly if he could arrange a meeting with Strollo. According to Connelly, A.C. Cook told Connelly that he wanted to meet with Strollo about his brother’s estate and asked Connelly to go to Strollo’s home to relay the message. In addition to discussing the debt reportedly owed to Strollo, Connelly complained to LCN member Strollo about not getting enough work. Id.

26. On July 25, 1996, Connelly asked Strollo if he wanted Connelly to pick him up to go to a meeting Connelly had arranged. Strollo told Connelly to “swing by here,” meaning for Connelly to go to Strollo’s home. Id.

27. The IRB Opinion and Decision also discussed evidence that included court-authorized intercepted conversations that showed Lawrence Garono (Garono) and Robert Poghen (Poghen) intervening with IBT Local 377 construction chief steward Anthony Antoun in assisting Connelly in obtaining work in the IBT Local 377 construction industry. The FBI considers Garono and Poghen to be LCN associates. Id.

28. On September 21, 1999, the IRB reached the determination that Connelly should be permanently barred from IBT membership and submitted an application to the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York for approval of its determination. GEB Ex. 1, United States v. International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Application LXX of the Independent Review Board, 88 Civ 4486 (S.D.N.Y. 1999).

29. On December 7, 1999, the Court approved the application of the IRB to permanently bar Connelly from membership in the IBT due to his knowing association with a member of organized crime. GEB Ex. 3, United States v. Intl. Brotherhood of Teamsters, Memorandum and Order, 88 Civ. 4486 (S.D.N.Y. 1999).

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23Stan(9923 comments)posted 4 years, 6 months ago

I see that JerryP has dropped out of the discussions . I'm sure that he has a wealth of information to provide on the matter .

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24JerryP(19 comments)posted 4 years, 6 months ago

Actually, Stan, I'm not a dancing monkey here to entertain you by responding on a regular basis to the drivel you continue to spew. I did not make a Saturday out of sitting in front of my computer, apparently unlike you.

Great job attempting to turn an absolutely meaningless situation into breaking news, I see you even attracted a few fellow double digit IQ club members to cheer you on. Good for you buddy!

When you post something of value rather than cutting and pasting every twenty year old news clip you can find on a man who was nothing more than a campaign volunteer then perhaps I will invest the time in responding further. Until then, good day.

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25Stan(9923 comments)posted 4 years, 6 months ago

Like I said Jerry I'm 100% sure that you have a wealth of information to share on the matter . So, what is Leo up to nowdays ?

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26seminole(476 comments)posted 4 years, 6 months ago

This isnt really news, but it does prove out the continued mob theme that Ytown is famous for. Gotta make you laugh, doesn't it? One of yall made a good point early in the threads: Obama rolls with felons and terrorists, this little item isn;t much, just perpetuation of Ytowns reputation.

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27republicanRick(1401 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

So JerryP feels anyone who points out items he disagrees with has only a double digit IQ? First sign of a wimp is when they have no ideas, only insults. Sorry bub, you need to do better than that if you want to gain respect.

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28Stan(9923 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

JerryP feels that exposure is wrong and these interests are best operated in a clandestine mode . Allowing Leo to be visible to the public was a huge mistake . What needs to be done for damage control now Jerry ?

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29Stan(9923 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

"Attempts by The Vindicator on Friday to contact Connelly by telephone were unsuccessful."

Leo must have been busy . Further attempts should be made to contact him .

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30Jack104(3 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

and this is news? you really wasted your time writing and printing this?

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31Stan(9923 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

Jack104 :

"and this is news? you really wasted your time writing and printing this?"

Plenty is unfolding and I'm sure more will hit the news in weeks the to come .

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321970mach1(1005 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

Senator's attitude is shocking and very disappointing.

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33Stan(9923 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

"In 1998, Connelly denied the allegations but said he was a friend of Strollo’s."

Lenny Strollo still has his supporters and friends . The past may be repeated in the future if we allow it . They see no wrong but only see opportunity .

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