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Mahoning County Treasurer quits after charge

Published: Tue, May 17, 2011 @ 12:01 a.m.


Lisa Antonini

1994-98: Director of operations for the Mahoning County Democratic Party.

February 2002: Antonini, serving as deputy clerk in the Mahoning County Treasurer’s office, picked by David Ditzler, Austintown trustee, to succeed him as Democratic Party chairman.

June 11, 2002: Democratic Party precinct leaders pick Antonini as the first woman to lead the party. She defeated Atty. Mark Belinky for the chairman’s post.

July 2002: Antonini is appointed to state Democrat Party’s executive committee.

2006: Antonini wins

another four-year term as party chairwoman.

2006: During the trial in which Anthony M. Cafaro Sr., then president of the Cafaro Co., filed a lawsuit to stop the county from purchasing Oakhill Renaissance Place and moving the county’s Job and Family Services from the Cafaro-owned Garland Plaza, Antonini, then deputy county treasurer, acknowledged her cellphone records showed 28 calls made or received

between her and Cafaro Co. headquarters between Aug. 12, 2006, and March 17, 2007, but said she never spoke to Cafaro, company president, about Oakhill.

March 2007: Party precinct committee members select Antonini to replace John

Reardon as county treasurer. Reardon resigned to work for the state.

2007: Gives videotaped

deposition in Oakhill Renaissance Place criminal conspiracy case.

March 2008: Antonini wins Democratic primary for county treasurer. She ran unopposed for the post in the November general election.

April 10, 2009: Resigns as head of county Democratic Party. Party precinct committee people select Atty. David Betras as her successor about two weeks later.

May 16, 2011: Antonini resigns as treasurer after U.S. attorney’s office charges her with honest-services mail fraud.

Source: Vindicator files

By Peter H. Milliken



The honest-services mail fraud charge filed by the U.S. attorney was no surprise to Lisa A. Antonini, who resigned abruptly as Mahoning County treasurer Monday, several hours after the criminal charge was filed in federal court.

Antonini, 41, of Gladwae Drive, Youngstown, and her lawyer, George G. Keith of Cuyahoga Falls, signed a waiver of indictment April 13, and agreed Antonini, whose annual salary was $68,275, would be prosecuted by information, federal court records show.

An information, an admission of wrongdoing, can be filed only if the accused waives indictment.

The available sentencing range is probation, or up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The case was investigated by the Youngstown FBI office and is assigned to U.S. District Judge Donald C. Nugent.

Antonini was charged with taking and failing to report a $3,000 cash contribution during her primary campaign for county treasurer Jan. 16, 2008, from a local businessman who is not identified in the information, while reporting only a $200 contribution he gave by check.

“In exchange, Antonini continued to support the businessman’s interests and understood she would take official action on his behalf if opportunities arose,” the information says.

Mike Tobin, a public affairs specialist for the U.S. attorney’s office in Cleveland, declined to confirm the identity of the businessman; and Justin J. Roberts, the assistant U.S. attorney prosecuting the case, could not be reached for comment.

Board of elections records released in response to a Vindicator request list only Anthony M. Cafaro Sr., former president of the Cafaro Co., as a person who contributed $200 by check Jan. 16, 2008, to Antonini’s election campaign. Cafaro, however, has not been charged with any crime related to gifts to her campaign.

Cafaro and his company and two current and two former county officials are under indictment in a separate case for allegedly conspiring to impede the move of the county department of Job and Family Services from Cafaro Co.-owned rented quarters to the county-owned Oakhill Renaissance Place.

“It doesn’t really relate back to our company, so we really wouldn’t have anything to say about it,” said Joe Bell, director of corporate communications for the Cafaro Co., when asked about the $200 donation.

Although the Cafaro Co. had nothing to say about Antonini’s troubles, Mark Munroe, Mahoning County GOP chairman, seized the opportunity to attack local Democrats.

Antonini “is just one more in a long list of local Democrats who have tarnished the integrity of our local, state and federal government,” Munroe said. Her departure as a public official “has created yet another setback for this Valley, from which it will take years to recover,” he added.

Antonini was county Democratic Party chairwoman in 2008.

Atty. Dave Betras, county Democratic Party chairman, announced that the application deadline to fill Antonini’s unexpired term will be May 31, with the county Democratic central committee members meeting at 7 p.m. June 6 at the Maronite Center to select her replacement.

“I join with the citizens of Mahoning County in both my dismay over public corruption and my appreciation for the U.S. Justice Department’s unflagging commitment to pursuing and prosecuting those who abuse the public trust,” Betras said.

Antonini sent a one-sentence letter announcing her resignation as treasurer, effective immediately, to Jon Husted, Ohio Secretary of State.

Betras said the county commissioners may appoint an interim treasurer until the Democratic committee meets, but they have not yet done so.

“The duties of overseeing the office would fall to me by default,” Dan Yemma, chief deputy county treasurer, said late Monday.

Antonini also immediately expressed remorse. “I am ashamed and embarrassed by my actions. I deeply regret having disappointed the people of our community who placed their trust and confidence in me. I am sincerely sorry for having let so many people down,” Antonini said in a media statement.

“I am fully prepared to accept the consequences of my actions, and, when the appropriate time comes, I look forward to having the opportunity to rebuild and resume my life,” she added.

Honest services fraud alleges a public officeholder devised a scheme to defraud citizens of their right to honest services through bribery and the concealment of material information.

In a federal court filing, Roberts said the Antonini case is related to those of Maureen A. Cronin, a former Mahoning County Common Pleas Court judge, and Jim Tsagaris, a former Trumbull County commissioner.

Cronin, 57, of Canfield Road, was fined $4,000 and sentenced to 27 months in federal prison after she pleaded guilty to two counts of honest-services mail fraud. Her release from the Federal Correctional Institution in Greenville, Ill., is set for March 8, 2012.

Cronin admitted taking and concealing an $18,000, no-interest cash loan from Flora Cafaro, sister of Anthony M. Cafaro Sr. and part-owner of the Cafaro Co., while that company had cases pending in her courtroom. Flora Cafaro has not been charged with any crime related to the loan to Cronin.

In December 2009, Tsagaris, 76, of Howland, was sentenced to nine months in prison for violating terms of his house arrest on two counts of honest-services mail fraud by going to a fast-food establishment and a cigar store and taking his sister to medical appointments and to a grocery store.

Tsagaris took and failed to disclose a $36,551 loan that he never repaid from an unidentified local businessman in late 2004, while he was a commissioner, and then voted on matters that benefited that businessman.


1UnionForever(1470 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

When will some of these Cafaro's actually go to jail? How many bribes does it take to have them put on the orange jump suit?

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2timOthy(802 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

It's shame the FBI doesn't look at all Governments . I'm sure the would find many more ! She needs to spend time period. Betrayal of the Public Trust is a SERIOUS CRIME !

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3foxyglo(372 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

So what will she get, a slap on the rist and a pat on the ass and say it's ok. probation for you witch

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4wksb50(32 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

An good workers get laid off in county government.......makes no sense at all!!!!!

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

"28 calls made or received
between her and Cafaro Co. headquarters between Aug. 12, 2006, and March 17, 2007, but said she never spoke to Cafaro, company president, about Oakhill."

Ya right Lisa . . ..What is amazing here is the fact that she swore loyalty to the Cafaros for the paltry sum of $3000. , but for the sum of $68,275. paid yearly she didn't give a crap about the taxpayers . With this kind of thinking by her and others it is no surprise that Mahoning County isn't prospering to any great degree .

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6vinglass(237 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

Hw do we know that $3000 is the only payment she ever received??
And why is it always an "unnamed businessman"? Everyone one at the courthouse knows that it was Cafaro, as usual..

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7palbubba(664 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

“I join with the citizens of Mahoning County in both my dismay over public corruption and my appreciation for the U.S. Justice Department’s unflagging commitment to pursuing and prosecuting those who abuse the public trust,” Betras said.

Betras is dismayed speaks to the level of his intelligence or his integrity. If he is truly dismayed he is dumb, if he is not he is not being honest. Take your pick Mr. Betras.

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8Stan(9923 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

Corruption in Mahoning county is nothing new . The taxpayers have been duped over the years in supporting it . It is organized and yes it is crime !

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9tkytown(43 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

Another Democratic officeholder bites the dust, who could imagine, the party of the people, screwing the taxpayers again! Keep voting D and you get what you deserve. If Osama Bin Laden was alive and ran for office in Mahoning county with a D after his name, he'd be elected.

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10piak(508 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

It's a waste of time to criticize voting for the Democrats. Seventy years of indoctrination have taken root. There is NO Republican party left, as the Democrats intended.

Remember the mantra: all Republicans BAD, Democrats GOOD. Democrats support Unions; Democrats are "poor", Republicans are "rich".

Mark Munro "took the opportunity to attack the Democrats" is indicative of the disrespect we get. Of course, if Betras slammed one of the few Republican office holders, his criticism would be lauded in the press. When Monro speaks the truth, it is put in the paper as a token comment.

Single party rule for seventy years has NOT benefitted the Valley. What is needed is a two party system that the voters can choose from. And...that's NOT GOING to happen. The corruption will continue.

Last one leaving the valley: Please turn the lights out? Thanks.

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11Silence_Dogood(1356 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

Silence_Dogood(609 comments)posted 9 months, 3 weeks ago
"It would seem that a great deal of the info that the Fed's have, comes from a meeting that was with McNally Scoritino Reardon and Antonini. With that said one has to ask how the Feds found out about what was said unless someone turned. With that thought in mind, and the lack of charges against Antonini, it would not be a stretch to think that is was Antonini that is the one singing a song to stay out of reform school. So it would seem that it was NOT an Ursuline reunion after all."

That was then, this is now, it seems that I was wrong, it was in FACT an all URSULINE show.
With that insight and the fact that she is pleading guilty, it would seem to me that she has been singing for a very long time and that the FEDS are just clearing up a few legal loose ends before they hammer the Cafaro's in the courtroom. The hangman's noose is getting VERY TIGHT around the Cafaro's neck

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12Chief_Justice_Spartacus(26 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

Corruption runs deep in this Valley. Their will be other Officer Holders that will go down with this probe.

As this probe expands will Gains, Bush and Macejko be next!?!

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13Freeatlast(1991 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

piak There is NO Republican party left, as the Democrats intended.
Boy I sure hope so ,but I'm afraid they will come out from under their rocks sometime in the future .

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14JME(801 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

"Area ranked next to worst"

"The Youngstown/Warren/Boardman Metropolitan Statistical Area is ranked overall next to worst among 188 United States cities by a Gallup/Healthways poll that measured residents’ well-being."


Where are the ones who claimed the Dems one-party rule had nothing to do with this poll?

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15tonne(199 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

Who says corruption is limited to one party or even one religion for that matter? The problem isn't that these officials are democrats or that they attended a Catholic high school, the problem is a lack of moral fortitude as well as the ability to make ethical decisions. They're bad people, selfish, greedy and conceited enough to think they are above the law. They don't say no because they don't want to say no and apologizing after they get caught doesn't help or make up for what they do. As voters, we need to make it clear that we will absolutely not tolerate this any longer from any public official. If we think the punishment doesn't fit the crime, we need to let that be known, too. And we need to stop kowtowing to those wealthy community leaders whose money buys them special favors. We need to raise our collective voice to all of them and say "No more!"

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16commoncitizen(961 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

Corruption IS limited to ONE party in this valley because there is only one party in control, due to the "one party' mentallity in the valley. It's time(past time) that people start looking at other candidates when they vote. It surely couldn't get worse!
How caqn the Cafero's get away from bribing, paying people off,etc.?? Are they "above the law?

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17redvert(2075 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

Yes Freeatlast, we certainly do not need a two party system in this town, your libs are doing just fine. That is why Ytown is the armpit of Ohio. Your libs have ruled this town for 70 years. 'How has that been working out for you?" Probably a dumb question for you, you are happy as a "pig in $%3t. Ignorance is bliss!

"When nothing changes, nothing changes"

resident, you asked when Betras would get his. Maybe he already is getting his!

commoncitizen, I agree, I have always been a fan of power being spread between both parties to guarantee checks and balances.

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18Stan(9923 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

What is amazing is the fact that the political machine in The Valley can be owned by just chump change . If the feds are in for the long haul this time we will see many more political cadavers .

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19YoungerVoice(9 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

Why do we have to wait for the Feds to do our job for us? Where is the grassroots movement to throw out EVERY incumbent the next time they're up for reelection? Political alignment doesn't matter, let's just get rid of them.

Anger without action is just bitterness.

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20ValleyNative(174 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

As a 20-something, the only way to view the Valley is as a corrupt corpse. When can I move south? Or at least to Pittsburgh.

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21walter_sobchak(1922 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

YoungerVoice & ValleyNative,

About 10 years ago, there was a Vindicator interview with a Federal Prosecutor that was leaving the area as he was being reassigned. He had prosecuted a number of corrupt politicians. He advised that the county courthouse was ruled by a "good-old-boys" network and that one way to change this was to try and elect females to office. First Cronin, now Antonini. It's not the sex, it's the character of the people that are selected by the Mahoning County Democratic Party. The old saying is that you can't rape the willing.
There have been good people in office locally. Pat Ungaro and George McKelvey, democrats, were honest officeholders. Republican Jack Hunter was mayor of Youngstown and he was as honest as the day is long. I remember as a teenager listening to democrats bad mouth Hunter as a Momma's Boy or a queer since he was single and lived with his mother at the time. He ended up marrying a nurse and raising many fine children.

Take the same advice that I have given my children; run from this area because it is only getting worse. There is little to offer our young people anymore. A "corrupt corpse" is a sad but very accurate description of the Valley.

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22seminole(476 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

Typical Valley corruption and look who's at the core: Cafaro's...

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23republicanRick(1168 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

I just do not understand the Cafaros worrying about some dumpy building on Youngstown's East Side and why they would bribe so many politicians to protect that building. They are worth hundreds of millions and yet they risked it all for a dump worth at most $ 100,000. Greed is a powerful vice.

And now we see David Betras who loves himself, who loves the limelight, and who loves the power he thinks he exerts. He too will fall along with Antonini, Cronin, Dann, Traficant, etc, etc, etc.

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24candystriper(575 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

I'm confused is this a news story or a press release from the Mahoning County Democratic Party...the only thing missing is the inflated jobs number to go along with it.

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25redvert(2075 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

Well stated Walter, there are good people in both parties but unless you knuckle under to the powers that be, you have no chance.

The voters in Ytown deserve what they get because they are too stupid to think for themselves. In a way it is based on the union mentality, they are told what they are to believe and not to be able to think for themselves. You can argue my point all you want, just remember that this has been a union town for 70 years or more. It really has progressed, hasn't it???

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26DOLE2(594 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

Why is everyone so surprised?

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27vinglass(237 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

Send a message to other would-be corruptors and prosecute the Cafaros to the full extent of the law!

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28mrblue(999 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

This is normal for the Mahoning Valley so don't be too surprised------it will continue to happen as long as career politicians continue to feed at the public trough. No doubt that other names will soon be mentioned and no doubt they will be public officials.

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29Stan(9923 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

vinglass :

"Send a message to other would-be corruptors and prosecute the Cafaros to the full extent of the law!"

It wont happen . They have their supporters in high places .

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302muchtax(345 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

Once again its the democrats and the cafaro's The feds should throw the carfaro's in jail. If Capri is honest she would be the only one. Vote out all democrats and always take a serious look at anyone that runs as a independent. Saying the Carfaro's are honest is like saying JJ was a businessman!

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31TheLostPatrol(756 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

It never ceases to amaze me how local folk go out and get highly educated, then learn that to work in the private sector, it takes alot of effort to become successful and eventually move up the ladder. Instead they return Home, decide its easier to take their Law degree and work for the public sector, enjoy the ease of not having to work a 60+ hours a week private sector job, and supplement their income by accepting envelopes of money via " doing favors" for the local money families. Lets see, if I make 68,000/yr. and my fellow law graduate that I went to school with is in private practice making 120,000/yr., I'll just make up the difference by "doing favors" for envelopes of money! There, were even; me and my fellow private sector law graduate.

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32escapee(43 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

Grass movement is difficult in Afghanistan and Youngstown when TALIBAN or CAFARO uses the Legal System and the PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS (including ODJFS) to punish any person that does not live according to the TALIBAN or CAFARO code of conduct.

Look at the punishment Cafaro has created for Gains for his part in referring Cafaro conduct to a Special Prosecutor.

An innocent child could lose his parent, for crossing a Cafaro.
All it takes is a judge and ODJFS. Allegedly, Cafaro has both.

Explains why the grass does not move anymore in YTOWN.

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33Stan(9923 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

Cronin, 57, of Canfield Road, was fined $4,000 and sentenced to 27 months in federal prison after she pleaded guilty to two counts of honest-services mail fraud. Her release from the Federal Correctional Institution in Greenville, Ill., is set for March 8, 2012.

Will the Cafaros be throwing a welcome back party for Maureen ?

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34fedupwithcrap(317 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

How come comments are cancelled once again on the youngstown man caught tailing officers?

Does the truth hurt too much to people or what?

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35fedupwithcrap(317 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

another one in a long list of valley democrats that have been caught with their hands in the cookie jar!!!

where is the ludt story about him alleging "youngstown man caught tailing officers?"

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36Zoned(51 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

Suggesting that George Tablack is good is an afront to those who actually are. His decisions are based on narcissism, Bertram's adoration, and the fact that 2 of the 3 elected commissioners gave him a pass to do whatever he wanted despite the fact that they were clueless. The power of the voters was wrongly placed in the hands of this jerk by Traficanti and Ludt. Only resaon he wasnt attacked by Vindicator is because every time something was discussed by Commissioners he got on the phone to DeSouza.

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37channel(5 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

It simply never ends in the Valley and Youngstown area! It's been nothing but fraud, corruption and "free rides" for just about anyone and everyone since the decline of the 1980's! Get a life! Does anybody work to earn and make a better life or does it continue to be an era of "gimmee, gimmee....take, take.....and, all for free! What a life, huh?

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38whitesabbath(738 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

shut up fedupwithcrap dont try to bring your b.s. on every story nobody wants to hear it....

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