Former Austintown police dispatcher pleads guilty
By Elise Franco
The former Austintown police dispatcher accused of misusing the department’s Law Enforcement Automated Database System pleaded guilty to two of the three charges against him.
Joseph Marscio, 42, of Winterpark Drive in Austintown, entered guilty pleas Friday before Judge John Durkin of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court to one count of unauthorized use of property and one count of possessing criminal tools, both fifth-degree felonies.
Marscio entered an Alford plea to one count of tampering with records, a third-degree felony. An Alford plea means that Marscio didn’t admit guilt but is acknowledging that the prosecution has evidence that could likely convince a judge or jury that he is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
He is scheduled for sentencing at 1:30 p.m. April 13.
Between January and May 2010, Marscio was accused of making 69 inquires on vehicle-title information on 49 people using the LEADS, according to a police report released in July.
An investigation into the inquiries by the state Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation revealed that they were on vehicles owned by his neighbors, Austintown police officers and their relatives between May 2007 and May 2010.
He was fired after 10 years as a dispatcher as a result of the investigation and subsequent charges.
As a part of the plea agreement, assistant county Prosecutor Meghan Brundege said the prosecution would “stay silent” and not recommend a sentence to the judge under the stipulation that Marscio withdraw any grievance he’s filed against the Austintown Police Department in regard to his May 2010 termination.
Judge Durkin said Marscio could receive up to one year on each of the fifth-degree felony charges and up to five years on the third-degree felony.
Marscio’s attorney, Dominic J. Vitantonio, of Mayfield Village, said his client is the “perfect candidate” for probation because before this incident, he had no criminal record and bears no chance of re-offending.
“Because of his background, the nature of this case and the punishment he’s already endured, I think probation is appropriate,” Vitantonio said.
Vitantonio said his client took the plea because he “acknowledges that he exceeded the scope of his permission” to access information on the LEADS system.
Vitantonio said he advised Marscio to plead Alford on the tampering charge because by law, records- tampering is defined as compromising the integrity of information.
Marscio made copies of the information he looked up in the LEADS system, but did not change or corrupt anything, the attorney said.
“The Alford plea was to protect that notion,” Vitantonio said. “But I’m not going to try the issue of the other crimes because he admitted to that.”
Though Marscio didn’t make a statement during the plea hearing, Vitantonio said afterward that his client is remorseful for his actions.
“Yes, Joe did one thing wrong and lost a lot because of it,” he said. “He really didn’t think through about the consequences."