By Elise Franco
The trial of five men accused of illicit activity at the Go Go Cabaret is postponed until November, after one of the defendants asked for a new lawyer.
Club manager Sebastian Rucci and co-defendants Curtis “C.J.” Jones, Derrick L. Dozier, Wayne Penny and Peter E. Sciullo II, were scheduled for trial Monday in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court before visiting Judge Thomas P. Curran.
A late-morning decision by Sciullo to change attorneys brought the proceeding to a halt.
The five are charged with engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, money laundering, perjury and two counts each of promoting prostitution.
Additionally, the corporations Go Go Cabaret, 5455 Clarkins Drive Inc. and Triple-G Investments — all of 5455 Clarkins Drive — each is indicted on a charge of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity with a forfeiture specification.
Sciullo’s attorney James Vitullo also represents the three corporations, as well as 16 women who dance at the club.
The women are charged in Mahoning County Area Court in Austintown with prostitution.
Assistant County Prosecutor Dawn Cantalamessa said Sciullo asked for an in-chambers meeting with Judge Curran, Vitullo and the prosecutors.
Vitullo’s representing Sciullo “was a conflict,” Cantalamessa said.
“The defendant expressed concern in a private conversation with counsel, and he fired Atty. Vitullo.”
Atty. Paul Conn was appointed Sciullo’s new counsel but asked the judge for a continuance on the case due to the abundance of evidence and motions filed previous to his appointment.
“I can’t go on with this case that fast,” Conn said. “I don’t know enough about the case to advise my client as to what would be in his best interest.”
Cantalamessa joined in Conn’s motion to continue the case. The trial was reset for Nov. 14.
“What choice does the court have [but to postpone,]” Judge Curran said. “I’m disappointed that we got to this stage with the potential conflict being there and had to resolve that to the detriment of the trial.”
Vitullo will continue to represent the corporations and the women charged in Austintown, nine of whom were present in court Monday.
They waived any potential conflict Vitullo may have in representing them.
The women were subpoenaed to testify on the prosecution’s behalf, but Vitullo said they planned to enact their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
In response, Cantalamessa said the prosecution would drop the misdemeanor prostitution charge against Lonnie Fedenburg, Nicole Montecalvo and Stephanie Yash, in exchange for their truthful testimony.
They have already provided written statements.
Judge Curran agreed to grant immunity to the three women.