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Cafaro alleges secrecy breach

Published: Tue, October 5, 2010 @ 12:10 a.m.

By Peter Milliken




Lawyers for the Cafaro Co. and its related parties seek court action to address what the lawyers view as apparent violations of grand- jury secrecy in the Oakhill Renaissance Place investigation.

The joint motion represents the Cafaro Co., its affiliates and a part-owner and former president of the Cafaro Co.

The motion, seeking action by Visiting Judge William H. Wolff Jr., was filed under seal Friday by Atty. John F. McCaffrey of Cleveland, who represents the Ohio Valley Mall Co. and The Marion Plaza Inc., both affiliates of the Cafaro Co.

The Mahoning County Common Pleas Court’s docket entry says other lawyers are listed in the motion, but it does not identify them.

The docket entry also does not say when and how the alleged leaks from secret grand-jury proceedings occurred, who allegedly made the leaks, who allegedly received the leaked information, what type of court action is requested, and what impact the Cafaro lawyers believe the leaks could have on the jury trial set to begin June 6, 2011.

Citing an agreement between prosecuting and defense lawyers not to comment publicly on matters about the Oakhill case, Joe Bell, director of corporate communications for the Cafaro Co., declined to comment on the filing.

Also on Friday, the special prosecutors assigned to the case filed under seal a brief in response to the motion and requested a hearing on the motion. The docket entry doesn’t report the content of that response or why the prosecutors want a hearing.

Special Prosecutor Paul M. Nick, who is chief investigative counsel for the Ohio Ethics Commission, did not respond to a request for comment on the motion, his response to it, and why he requested a hearing.

The docket shows the court mailed notices to the parties on Monday morning, saying the hearing would be at 9 a.m. Oct. 14, but the docket entry does not say whether the hearing will be open to the press and the public.

A court official did not respond to a Vindicator reporter’s inquiry as to whether the hearing would be open or closed.

Because of his concern about the possible impact of pretrial publicity on potential jurors, Judge Wolff ordered last month that all nonprocedural filings in this case be made under seal and screened by him before their contents are publicly released.

Ten defendants in the Oakhill case were charged in a 73-count Mahoning County grand jury indictment issued July 28.

Eight of the defendants are charged with conspiring to prevent or delay the move of the county’s Department of Job and Family Services from Cafaro Co.-owned rented quarters to Oakhill, which the county bought in 2006.

Those defendants are Anthony M. Cafaro Sr., retired Cafaro Co. president; the Cafaro Co. and two of its affiliates, the Ohio Valley Mall Co. and the Marion Plaza Inc.; county Commissioner John A. McNally IV; county Auditor Michael V. Sciortino; former County Treasurer John B. Reardon; and John Zachariah, former county JFS director.

Oakhill is the former Forum Health Southside Medical Center, to which JFS moved in July 2007.

Two other defendants, Flora Cafaro, part owner of the Cafaro Co. and sister of Anthony Cafaro Sr., and Atty. Martin Yavorcik, are charged with money laundering in connection with a concealed gift of $15,000 investigators allege she gave to Yavorcik’s unsuccessful 2008 campaign for county prosecutor.

Last week, prosecutors provided their evidence to the defense lawyers, including a DVD containing 36,089 pages of documents, another DVD containing photographs and audio and video recordings; and the prosecution’s initial witness list.

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