By JOHN W. GOODWIN JR.
A former Youngstown State University student accused of receiving tuition remission to which he was not entitled will pay the money back and spend four years on probation.
Anthony J. Maldonado, 25, of Bev Road, Boardman, appeared Thursday for sentencing before Judge James C. Evans of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court.
Maldonado had been charged with two counts of falsification and one count each of grand theft and tampering with records but ultimately pleaded guilty to one count of misdemeanor falsification in a theft
offense. The other charges were dismissed in a plea agreement with prosecutors.
Prosecutors contend that Anthony Maldonado’s
uncle, Ivan Maldonado, who had been a 20-year YSU employee, falsified information to allow his nephew to attend YSU and receive more than $30,000 worth of free tuition he wasn’t entitled to between 2003 and 2009.
The prosecution alleges Anthony Maldonado was not a dependent of Ivan’s as Ivan claimed, and that Anthony was earning well beyond the $3,500 annual-income ceiling for a dependent to be eligible for tuition remission. Ivan falsely claimed Anthony was his son, said Robert E. Bush Jr., former chief of the criminal division of the county prosecutor’s office.
Only university employees, their spouses and their dependent children are entitled to free tuition.
Maldonado was facing up to 180 days in jail on the misdemeanor charge and a maximum fine of $1,000. Bush did not make any recommendations as to sentencing, but did ask the court to make Maldonado make restitution to the university in the amount of $20,000.
Maldonado told the court his actions were due in part to immaturity. He said he plans to reimburse the university any amount ordered by the court.
“I am sorry for my actions. I was younger then, but I am smarter now and I plan to pay this off in a timely manner,” he said prior to sentencing.
Attorney Lou Defabio, representing Maldonado, told the court that his client is gainfully employed, not likely to commit another crime and is a perfect candidate for probation.
“This is a young man with no criminal record. ... There is nothing to suggest he will commit
future crimes or has committed past crimes,” he said. “There is no risk here that he will commit more crimes or is a risk to the community.”
Judge Evans ultimately sentenced Maldonado to four years’ probation and six months in jail, but suspended all six months. The judge also ordered Maldonado to pay a $500 fine and make $20,000 restitution to the university over the next four years.