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Cafaro defendants seek to seal records from public in dismissed Oakhill case

Published: Fri, July 22, 2011 @ 12:07 a.m.

By Peter H. Milliken



The Cafaro defendants in the recently dismissed Oakhill Renaissance Place criminal conspiracy case are seeking an order sealing the records in that case.

The joint application was filed Thursday by Anthony M. Cafaro Sr., former president of the Cafaro Co.; the Cafaro Co. and its affiliates, the Ohio Valley Mall Co. and The Marion Plaza Inc.; and Flora Cafaro, part-owner of the Cafaro Co.

Because the application was filed under seal, it wasn’t clear exactly what the defendants wanted sealed from public view or why they think the records should be sealed.

Joe Bell, director of corporate communications for the Cafaro Co., said he didn’t have the answers to those questions.

The Vindicator will be opposing the defendants’ continued efforts to cloak these proceedings in secrecy,” said Marion Little, the newspaper’s lawyer.

The Cafaro defendants had sought last year to seal pretrial document filings, but visiting Judge William H. Wolff Jr. unsealed most of them. The Vindicator and 21WFMJ-TV seek a writ of prohibition from the Ohio Supreme Court to compel Judge Wolff to unseal the bills of particulars that give details of all the charges.

Judge Wolff, of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court, dismissed the 73-count Oakhill indictment on July 11 without prejudice, meaning charges could be refiled later.

In doing so, the judge dismissed all charges against all defendants, including the Cafaro defendants; County Commissioner John A. McNally IV, County Auditor Michael V. Sciortino, former county Treasurer John B. Reardon, former county Job and Family Services Director John Zachariah; and Atty. Martin Yavorcik.

The judge dismissed the indictment at the request of the special prosecutors, who said their inability to obtain tape recordings held by the FBI and provide them to the defense made it impossible to proceed.

Special Prosecutor David P. Muhek, an assistant Lorain County prosecutor, said there were about 2,000 hours of tapes that may be relevant to Oakhill in the FBI’s possession. The FBI refused to comment on whether it withheld the tapes because they pertain to an ongoing federal investigation.

Except for Yavorcik and Flora Cafaro, the Oakhill defendants were charged with conspiring to impede JFS’ move from Cafaro Co.-owned rented quarters to the county-owned Oakhill.

Yavorcik and Flora Cafaro were charged only with one count each of money laundering pertaining to an allegedly concealed $15,000 gift she gave to Yavorcik’s unsuccessful 2008 campaign for county prosecutor.

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

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