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Williams takes on the courts, prosecutor

Published: Sun, January 16, 2011 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Bertram de Souza (Contact)

It was a shot across the bow of the Mahoning County criminal justice system — and it came out of the blue.

Indeed, the setting for Youngstown Mayor Jay Williams’ attack on the Common Pleas Court and the county prosecutor’s office only added to the intrigue. But, why did Williams choose his annual soiree to take on general division judges R. Scott Krichbaum, James C. Evans, Maureen A. Sweeney, John M. Durkin and Lou A. D’Apolito, and the county’s chief lawyer, Paul Gains?

It should be pointed out that the mayor did not name names, but it doesn’t take a doctoral degree to figure out who he was talking about.

Williams, who is in his second four-year term as the city’s chief executive, used the word dysfunction to describe the county’s criminal justice system. He told the gathering of friends, well-wishers and the usual gaggle of politicians at the Mayor’s Community Cele-bration at Stambaugh Auditorium that he will accept responsibility for aspects of the dysfunction that occur within the city, and then he let loose with this volley:

“But I won’t take responsibility for the failures and indifference of the criminal justice system outside of the city, in Mahoning County.”

Failures and indifference. Those are fighting words.

Nary a peep

And yet, there has been nary a peep out of the Common Pleas judges and Prosecutor Gains. Why? Because the mayor isn’t the first person to talk about the system in such a derisive manner. In fact, the word dysfunction was originally used by a special master who had been appointed by a federal judge to study the sheriff’s department, the courts and the prosecutor’s office.

The picture he painted wasn’t pretty.

But why would Williams come out swinging now? There are several possible reasons, foremost of which are the high-profile murder cases on the docket this year. Two that are bound to attract national attention are the killings of 80-year-old Angeline Fimognari and 79-year-old Thomas Repchic. Fimognari was shot at point-blank range as she sat in her car in the parking lot of St. Dominic Church on Youngstown’s South Side. Repchic was shot while driving his car on the South Side not far from St. Dominic. He was said to have been the victim of mistaken identity.

Williams, Youngstown Police Chief Jimmy Hughes, and city government in general have been under intense pressure from Youngstown and suburban residents to get a handle on the crime epidemic that continues to define the community.

The murders of Fimognari and Repchic have drawn national news coverage, and so the pressure is on to make sure the cases aren’t dismissed because of errors or incompetence.

As the mayor told the gathering at his annual event, in general, firearm specifications that would result in mandatory sentences must not be dismissed and high-level felonies should not be plea-bargained down.

“It’s time for fewer plea bargains, more trials, stiffer sentences and more accountability,” he said.

His underlying message to the judges and the prosecutor was clear: Don’t drop the ball.

It’s possible that a recent story about the nine capital cases on the docket caught the mayor’s attention because Gains isn’t the lead prosecutor in any of them. Dawn Cantalamessa, chief trial lawyer in the criminal division, will be in charge.

Should the public read anything into Gains’ decision not to take on the Fimognari and Repchic cases?

The mayor’s criticism of the criminal justice system during his party must have come as a surprise to the attendees.

Auto czar

Many were expecting an announcement by Hizzoner that he has been offered the job of U.S. auto czar in the Obama administration and that he is heading to Washington. The announcement never came. Williams has publicly acknowledged that he has had conversations with high-ranking Department of Labor officials about the job, and there are unconfirmed reports that background checks have been conducted.

But, there has been no word from on high, which may explain his grouchy mood. Perhaps the judges and prosecutor will give him a recommendation.


1author50(1121 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

#1 qualification for Jay Williams to be Auto Czar - he knows how to drive a car.

Did the Mayor just figure out that the Mahoning County criminal justice system is broken or did he finally read the report by Vince Nathan that is at least 4-5 years old.

I see Jay following (again) in the footsteps of the previous Mayor - becoming a cohost on McKelvey's radio show on 57am. It is correctly called "The Lunatic Hours."

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2Photoman(1249 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

Mr. Ricotta, apparently you're correct.

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3Stan(9923 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

"Williams, who is in his second four-year term as the city’s chief executive, used the word dysfunction to describe the county’s criminal justice system. "

Too bad that Jay didn't have this vision of things during his first year .

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4mrblue(1175 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

Here again, the criminals do not fear the justice system in Mahoning County. A good speach, but will it reach the right people. We will soon find out. Remember, actions do speak louder than words. Why isn't Mr. Gaines taking the lead on some of these cases? Does he have some explaining to do or did I miss something?

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5davidjohn(144 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago


people do not fear the criminal justice system in mahoning county

the guy who stole $67,000 from that old lady

who was the friend of hunter dellick traficanti and swierz

has not been arrested yet


has not been arrested yet

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6exposed(66 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

Are you sure Venerose has not been arraigned? I thought they did that immediately.You don't have to be arrested. I think they can let you come in and plead without an arrest.

But if that is so why not? This story has smelled from the beginning with well known names involved with this guy. And the Vindicator took the story off the list of most commented stories. It looks like a cover up taking place to protect Judge Hunter and Judge Dellick as well as Commissioner Traficanti and Councilman Swierz.

Maybe some law enforcement people can tell us what is going on.

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7author50(1121 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago


I hear the Venerose is in Florida waiting for a limo to pick him up and bring him back.

Know why he can afford a vaction in Florida? He stole A LOT more than $67,000 AND collects uneployment from his short time working for Dellick!

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81970mach1(1005 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

I like the mayor, but I think a BIG problem is his own police chief.

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9author50(1121 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

Looks like it will be up to Probate Judge Mark Belinky to sort this one out, because Gaines is obviously protecting Moderelli, who is protecting Hunter.

Key date is 02/03/11!

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101970mach1(1005 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

"Key date is 02/03/11!"

What dos that mean?

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11davidjohn(144 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

do not understand

maybe someone who knows more about these web sites can help

put the name david venerose in the vindy search engine

to read the big article that was in the sunday paper

with all the documents

and it does not come up

is the 2-3-11 date in that article

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12author50(1121 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

In the pdf files that go way back about the Venerose case, the first payment of his 1000 year payment plan levied by Judge Clunk(er) of the $67,000 that Venerose stole from Ms. Burke is $5,000.00 and due and payable on Wednesday 02/03/2011.

Im assuming one of the reasons that Venerose is a fugitive, is because he CANT make that payment.

Im assuming that once that payment IS NOT made, Mahoning County Probate Judge Mark Belinky will not be a happy Judge and that Venerose will be in contempt of court and something will start to change.

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131970mach1(1005 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

How is he a fugitive for not paying if the money isn't due until Feb 3?

Some of you seem as though you have had personal dealings with this guy. The intensity of the comments are stronger than some of the murder cases here.

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14author50(1121 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

He isn't a fugitive anymore. Finally showed up to be booked. The payment plan from Judge Clunk(er) has nothing to do with what he was indicted for. 1 is civil - no indictment. The one he skipped out for 2 weeks is criminal.

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151970mach1(1005 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

News reports indicate he was never a "fugitive" in the first place.

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161970mach1(1005 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

So now you think he is going to be murdered?!?!?!?! You have been reading too many John Grisham books. He has agreed to pay the $ back, so why would anyone want him killed? Who is going to kill him? The nursing home? The 90 year old woman? Family Services?

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171970mach1(1005 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

I reread some of the articles from paper. There is not much mystery here.

The background checks missed something the paper reported as expunged. Big deal.

He disclosed that there was a probate investigation on application. When that became issue, the judge fired him.

He had a civil commission from sheriff's office. So what? Those get passed out like trick or treat.

He listed Traficanti as reference. Everybody lists politicians as references. Maybe I am remembering this wrong, but didn't Judge Dellick have public dispute with Traficanti and commissioners over budget? So listing Traficanti doesn't seem like a plus there.

He worked for Cafaros and they say it was very low level type job.

Many folks here seem to be talking in code and making innuendos as if they have some sort of inside scoop. I just don't see anything mysterious here.

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18davidjohn(144 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

you are glossing over some very curious facts

he put his probate problem on the application

but dellick did not fire him for that

she overlooked it until the probate case was about to hit the media months later

he was reprimanded according to the vindicator documents

but she overlooked that too

also note that venerose said in his juvenile job application that he learned about the job through dellick herself

also the length of time that he knew his references raises question

he knew traficanti before he became commissioner

you talk about dellick had dispute with traficanti over her budget

that was before traficanti became commissioner

and since that fight she has doubled her budget with the commissioners approval

how does he afford a big time lawyer like ingram

what was hunters role in all this

venerose said he helped hunter in his race against the probate judge

did hunter prepare documents for any other of veneroses victims

why was a guy with his background in charge of swierz group

lots of questions

is that enough mystery for you

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19author50(1121 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago


Good points all. 1970Mach1 is not himself when he/she buys the spin.

Least we forget - Venerose fired from Target for stealing (public record) and caught stealing by Easter Seals (no charges made, because Venerose paid back what he stole... also public record).

How do these types find jobs in County Government... Venerose, Gaudio, Jr., etc?

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201970mach1(1005 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

Sorry guys I just don't see it as mysterious. Interesting yes, mysterious no.

To me, mysterious is the guy in Austintown who told his wife he was driving to a truck stop in Hubbard to buy hot dogs. She finds him dead in their basement and his car ends up at a truck stop in Austintown. Now THAT is mysterious to me.

More later....

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211970mach1(1005 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

1. Dellick obviously did not know the extent of the probate stuff. When she found out, she fired him. Why is that so mysterious?

2. Delleck wasn't making the review of Venerose, some supervisor was. The supervisor did not recommend that he be fired. Looks like from the PDF file they were trying to counsel him to be better employee. I would have to imagine that is standard practice to avoid turnover and that is probably done for all employees.

3. Seems Delleck told him there was an opening. He applied using standard form. She hired him. I am missing the intrigue in that.

4. Why is it mysterious that he knew Traficanti before Traficanti became commissioner? I would bet thousands of people knew Traficanti before he became commissioner.

5. I have no idea what Dellicks budget numbers are, but I'd be willing to bet that other judges budgets have skyrocketed as well and has absolutely nothing to do with Venerose stuff. How in the world could Dellick have conflict with Traficanti about budget before he became commissioner? That makes no sense. Of course commissioners approve budgets of judges all the time that they do not like. It is to avoid court battle that commissioners always lose. That isn't very mysterious.

6. What other "victims" are there that Hunter could have prepared docs for? You seem to be talking in code as if you know of other issues that the rest of us are not aware of. All I have read about is one person's guardian estate.

7. Do you think Swierz went out and spent money doing background checks into everyone's life before having them involved in his group? Or do you think Swierz was happy to take anyone and everyone who was willing to get involved?

I seriously doubt that there is some big grand conspiracy involving these officeholders. They have either fired him or distanced themselves from him. Why is that mysterious? What would you expect them to do?

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221970mach1(1005 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

Author 50:

1. I don't know what spin you are talking about. Venerose and his lawyer said no comment.

2. I looked for the public record you refer to about him being fired from Target. I am not the best researcher,but I found nothing about that. There is court record about him being sued by Target Bank. Looking at the court record, that seems like a credit card or loan thing, not being fired from Target .Please list the public record about his being fired from Target.

3. I found no public record or news stories of his stealing something from Easter Seals. Where did you find that? I can't.

4. When Venerose probate issue became an issue, he was fired. That does not seem mysterious to me.

5. You said he was a fugitive, which I doubt because there was no news story about him being sought, and when he was in court he was not charged with being on the run.

It is not uncommon at all for people who are charged with crime to make arrangements through their lawyer to turn themselves in. That isn't special treatment for Venerose, that is how things work. Saves police effort of having to chase someone down, saves defendant embarassment of being led away in handcuffs in front of news cameras.

6. You said Venerose was in Florida. I did not see thatin Vindy or news. How did you know that? Seems like you are getting inside info. If you are not a cop or prosecutor employee it is kind of mysterious how you'd know that.

7. I do not remember the specifics of the Gaudio case, but it did seem like the whole story just kind of went away. I agree that seems odd.

8. You guys all see this grand vast conspiracy working in Venerose's favor, what I see is this:
He got a county job, then got fired. Nobody saved him.

He got sued over the guardian issue and had to pay back 100% of the money and he can't discharge it in bankruptcy. Long payment plan, but there are a couple of pretty big lump sums. No great deal there.

Then he got charged with four felonies and has had his picture all over the newspaper and tv.

I sure would not want to be him. Looks like absolutely nobody is protecting him.

When trial comes along, maybe some of the stuff you all seem to be privy to that the rest of us are not will be disclosed.

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23davidjohn(144 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago


you said

Maybe I am remembering this wrong, but didn't Judge Dellick have public dispute with Traficanti and commissioners over budget? So listing Traficanti doesn't seem like a plus there.

i said that dellick never had a budget battle with traficanti

then you said

How in the world could Dellick have conflict with Traficanti about budget before he became commissioner?

you are being wildly inconsistent

you downplay dellicks role

i am not as good as you guys in finding the documents that were on this site

i will try my best to remember

the probate lawsuit had been filed months before dellick hired him

venerose listed a probate problem

the lawsuit was for $50,000

if dellick did her duty she would have inquired as to the details of the suit

she did not


and she did not fire him until 5 or 6 months after he was hired

almost a year after the probate lawsuit was filed

here is some inside info to chew on

delllick fast tracked verneroses hiring


and as far as hunter

does anyone believe this is the only person this guy scammed

that the probate court stopped him before he conned others

and this was his only victim

he obviously is connected

maybe not enough to stop the bleeding

but until probate he was skating pretty well with the help of some powerful people

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24exposed(66 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

You guys are wasting your time. The Venerose case will disappear. When no one is looking a deal will be made and the case go away. And there will be no further looking into the roles of the public officials. The newspaper won't look any further. I was even surprised this story got printed. The owners and editors must have been out of town.That is the way it is in the Mahoning Valley.

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251970mach1(1005 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

I usually like your observations, but I think you are way off the mark. Venerose ran for office. Hunter and Dellick are officeholders. Those types often are in same circle. I am certain she wishes she never hired him, and Hunter wishes he never did the power of attorney for him.

He had a menial county job. That seems far from being "connected." I seriously doubt any officeholders were "in" on trying to get money from the 90 year old woman.

Venerose is ruined. Dellick and Hunter looked bad in the paper. Seriously, who is in any way happy that has been named in the newspaper articles?

As far as your other comment, why are you so sure some unknown person has been "scammed"? Is there any evidence of this? I have seen nothing about that in any article or news report.

If you and author are even half right, it would be quite an interesting trial.

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26davidjohn(144 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

there have been stories about veneorise helping himself to money

italian festival

easter seals

check out his home on sheridan

and how he became owner

he claimed to be a health care provider

was this his only client

not a great leap to assume not

no one is saying these officeholders got money from mrs burke

but ask yourself why they were friends with a guy like this

what does that say about their judgment

and how did he know them

one other thought

did hunter get paid with mrs burkes money

maybe there is a money angle

author50 said investigations only scratch the surface around here

he is right

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27author50(1121 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

@davidjohn, 1970 Mach 1 and Censorshiped:

Excellent thread and good give and take by all.

The information about Easter Seals and Target were widely circulated around the 7th Ward when Venerose ran against Mark Memmer. Will look in my bag of tricks to see if I still have the source. But throw in the Italian Fest fom Our Lady of Mt. Cafaro (thank you davidjohn) and Mr. Venerose has a history of being caught with sticky fingers to money that he didn't earn-but stole.

It is widely known in the 7th Ward that Venerose and his mother Edith have "provided" health care to others - I sure would like an investigation into their past/present as caretakers.

davidjohn brings up a good point - why is everyone only assuming Ms. Burke was his only client?

1970mach1 - you put way too much credit into news reports. The posters on this board know more than the media!

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281970mach1(1005 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

1. I would have to think that Hunter would have gotten paid at most a couple hundred dollars for doing the guardianship. Most legal documents any more are computer generated. Not a slam on him, just how it is.
2. Everyone is assuming she was only client because Vindy did a huge investigative story on him and nothing else turned up. Often when those things happen, others come forward. The police investigated him and he was charged with four felonies. It seemed pretty clear from the news reports that police wanted to charge him with as much as possible. If these other things were true, I'd bet police would have pursued them.

3. Author: You seem to absolutely despise Belinky as much as you do Venerose, but don't you agree that the investigation would probably have not occurred if it were not for Belinky's referring the matter to others? (I forget if he sent letter to sheriff or prosecutor). Was that before or after Vindy article that he sent the letter?
4. davidjohn: how did he get the house on Sheridan? You suggest I investigate that. How would one do that? If you think you know, share.
5. Easter Seals, Target, Mt. Carmel, are all unsubstantiated rumors. I looked for facts online, and found nothing. If these things were public record as suggested I'm sure Vindy article would have had them. Just because something rises to the level of campaign fodder in the Mahoning Valley does not make it true.

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29author50(1121 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago


1: Probate Judge Mark Belinky did an excellent job at stopping Venerose. There is no ? about that.

2: Despise is a very strong word. I am highly disappointed that the man who was a candidate at every turn (Belinky), who touted himself as a reformer at every turn; turned out to be a typical Mahoning County politician. That is, once in office - support the status quo! Example a: spent taxpayers money on pencils to promote his NAME. Excuse -everyone else does it, so why shouldn't I? Example b: The hiring of his crack chief investigator Don Gaudio Jr., whose questionable background has been exposed enough.

#3: Not rumors. All fact. Looking for the information that was passed around when Venerose ran against Memmer.

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30davidjohn(144 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

go to the recorders web site

type in veneroses name

you cant see the documents

but they have the transfers

there was a transfer that put veneroses name on the sheridan property with the owner

as joint owners

then the owner died a year later

and venerose became the owner

how did venerose get his name on the deed

was he caring for this guy too

like mrs burke got a mortgage on her house at age 89

this sheridan should be investigated also

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31author50(1121 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

@davidjohn --

You are right on about the house. Once again lots of ?'s - few answers.

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321970mach1(1005 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

I went to recorder's website for first time. Wow, that is a pain to use and decipher. Gave up trying to figure that one out. Auditor site much better but doesn't cross reference info you refer to.

Agree, pencil issue very offensive. Wasn't he passing them out last year too?

I don't understand the Gaudio thing. Why would he want someone with so many issues?

Was Gaudio involved in Venerose case?

I'm not from Missouri, but I do have a strong "show me state" belief. I don't doubt you may have seen the info you talk about, but it does not come up in search of public records, so I tend to think that the info is Mahoning County political attacks rather than truth.

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33author50(1121 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

He's always passing out those pencils.

If probate has an investigator unit and it WAS Judge Belinky who stopped Venerose - I believe that crack chief investigator Don Gaudio Jr. might have been involved in gathering information.

poster davidjohn is right about the house on Sheridan.

Still looking for the information on Easter Seals, Target, etc. It was over 12 years ago and it is official.

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341970mach1(1005 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

You guys certainly know alot about him and his situation. To be honest, I don't even remember who I bought my own house from and you guys know the circumstances of how he got his.

But overall he is really small potatoes.

Hopefully you can put your investigative prowess to good use in determining to more interesting situations, such as why did Morley and Engler resign the same day; the truth about Oak Hill; the murder of the elderly guy in Austintown a few days ago, and what in the world is all the horn blowing in Hubbard about.

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35author50(1121 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

Morley and Engler resigning -- gave them more time to play in the playbox. Morley still sits on the Board of Fixxed Elections and Engler has been trying to get appointed to various offices. Obviously there was nothing there than rumors.

Oak Hill will all come out in the trials.

Austintown murder and honking in Hubbard (what are you talking about here)?

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361970mach1(1005 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

See, I see something going on more w/Morley and Engler than w/Venerose. They both resign on same day?!? That was soooooo odd and unprecedented.

Oak Hill will be an amazing display, that's for sure.

You did not see the story of the 76 year old guy who left his house in Austintown Tues eve to go to get hot dogs in Hubbard and ended up dead in his basement? His car found at a different truck stop in Austintown. His wife said their room had been searched.

Hubbard car honking is strange story about people honking horns by guys house and his pursuing charges on something like 70 people.

Both were Vindy stories.

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371970mach1(1005 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

1. It seems entirely possible that w/o the comments from 4 or 5 posters here who made remarks suggesting Vindy follow up after the first Venerose blurb story, this might have gone nowhere. But then Vindy DID follow up, and maybe that spurred Belinky and BPD to follow up.

2. But regardless of what happens, many of you are going to claim a fix or cover-up because there are basically 3 likely outcomes:
A. He is convicted of everything
B. He is found guilty of some or all of charges
C. He makes a plea deal

3. But the reality of it is none of those scenarios is likely to result in significant or even any jail time. NOT because he is being protected, but because that is how criminal justice system works.

4. If he makes a plea, that is not unusual. VAST majority of people in prison got there through making pleas according to show I saw few weeks ago.

5. If he is found guilty on some or all of counts, they are non--violent offenses. He has no history of violence (or it'd have been posted here). That suggests little or no jail time. If he did get jail, it likely be quick release.

Be realistic, if Bill Clinton did not get jail time for his perjury while prez, and he was an important guy who had the whole country watching in case involving MILLION$, seems pretty unlikely Venerose would.

6. Many of you obviously have negative feelings about him and want him to be and have already decided he is guilty probably because of direct personal relationships or business. I want to see the facts come out at trial first.

I used to be one of those people who thought a person accused of crime must be guilty because police and prosecutor said so. I am not that way any more. Too many instances of police or prosecutor screw ups, on purpose or by accident. While most police and prosecutors are great people, I judge every case individually.

For instance, Oak Hill. I am disgusted at how JJ has gotten away w/so much w/so little consequences. But I still want Tony Cafaro to get fair trial and I want to see all the facts before I decide who is guilty or not of what.

7. Anyway, I have enjoyed the banter so far and appreciate the mostly civil discourse between everyone. Imagine how much fun we will have discussing Oak Hill when THAT tsunami of a trial hits!!!!!

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38Layman(1 comment)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

Where's Jay Williams been?
Where's he going?
The sooner the better for us

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39candystriper(575 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

Are you saying The Vindy is the Daily Sentinel in the Green Hornet before Britt Reid takes over?

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