Keeping secrets doesn’t help

Keeping secrets doesn’t help

When prosecutors moved to dismiss the charges against the defendants in what has come to be known as the Oakhill Renaissance Place criminal-conspiracy case, the defendants and their lawyers were quick to not only claim vindication, but to accuse the state of pursuing a meritless case.

“From the very beginning, this case has been a politically motivated prosecution, and it has been a waste of taxpayer dollars. What a shame,” said Anthony M. Cafaro Sr., former president of the Cafaro Co., and one of seven people who faced various charges in the case.

“[Cafaro] was not only presumed innocent; he was actually innocent,” said Martin G. Weinberg of Boston, one of Cafaro’s lawyers. Another of his lawyers, George A. Stamboulidis of New York City, characterized the case as “pathetic.”

Air it out

And yet, when the opportunity presents itself to show the public just how weak a case the state may have had by unsealing hundreds of pages of documents in the case, it is the defendants and their lawyers who are fighting tooth and nail to keep everything under seal.

Of special interest would be the bill of particulars, which provide a detailed statement of claims by the prosecution, and which are routinely available prior to trial in Mahoning County. Indeed, the bills of particulars against two defendants were made available early in the process, which quickly led to motions by other defendants to seal the documents in their cases.

The defense lawyers claim the prosecution was unjust, and some have also predicted that the state will never refile the charges.

So, why continue fighting to keep the people from seeing what the judge, the defendants and all the lawyers on both sides have already seen?

Unseal the documents, and let the public decide if they were poorly served by local and visiting prosecutors and lawyers for the Ohio Ethics Commission who pursued the case.

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