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Lantz takes charge as city prosecutor


Published: Fri, April 6, 2012 @ 12:09 a.m.

Many support Youngstown mayor’s decision to terminate Macejko

photo

Mayor Charles P. Sammarone announces the dismissal of City Prosecutor Jay Macejko. The mayor said at a news conference Thursday in city hall he wasn’t satisfied with the accountability and management in the prosecutor’s office under Macejko’s leadership.

By Peter H. Milliken

milliken@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

The city’s new prosecuting attorney starts Monday.

Mayor Charles Sammarone appointed Dana G. Lantz, who is now first assistant city law director and housing court prosecutor, to replace Jay Macejko as the city prosecutor.

Sammarone fired Macejko on Thursday. Macejko could not be reached to comment after the mayor’s decision.

Some city council members and some influential community leaders have endorsed the mayor’s decision to terminate Macejko.

“I think he had to,” said Councilwoman Janet Tarpley, D-6th. “I don’t think he wanted to” fire Macejko, she said, adding she considered Macejko a friend and was disappointed with the manner of his departure.

Councilwoman Annie Gillam, D-1st, also agreed with the mayor’s decision. “The mayor will not put up with it. Department heads won’t put up with it,” she said of the mayor’s complaints about the prosecutor’s office. “I’m very disappointed.”

Gillam said Macejko had been “very helpful” in acting against troublesome businesses and activities in the city and in elimination of “blighted housing.”

“I respect the decision. I think it’s probably in the best interests of the community and the prosecutor’s office,” said the Rev. Kenneth Simon, pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church on the city’s South Side.

The mayor made his decision after an investigation by a three-member team consisting of Law Director Anthony Farris, Human Relations Commission Director Jonathan Huff and Police Lt. Brian Butler of the police department’s internal-affairs division.

Lantz, who has a bachelor’s degree in criminology from the University of South Florida and a law degree from the University of Akron, will be paid $68,375 annually in her new position.

As a condition of her employment, she must live in Mahoning County or an adjoining Ohio county, and she will have a 90-day probationary period in her new position.

The city prosecutor is appointed by and serves at the pleasure of the mayor.

Lantz joined the city as an assistant law director in 1998, became as assistant city prosecutor in 2001 and returned to the law department last September.

“My goals are to prosecute the cases as they arise out of police investigations, but we also want to pro-actively address the quality-of-life issues in the city,” Lantz said.

These issues include unscrupulous businesses, housing fraud, drug dealing, blight and code enforcement, she said, adding that she will continue to be housing court prosecutor.

ROOTS OF INVESTIGATION

The investigation that led to Macejko’s discharge stemmed from a federal religious discrimination lawsuit filed against the city by Basil Ally, a Muslim assistant city prosecutor of Middle Eastern descent.

The city settled the case last fall without a trial, paying Ally a $110,000 lump sum and giving him a promotion and a $4,000 annual pay increase.

Among the pieces of evidence in the case was an April 7, 2009, text message on the cellphone of Bret Hartup, an assistant city prosecutor, which made derogatory references to President Barack Obama.

The message appeared in court documents among a series of text messages exchanged between Macejko and Hartup.

The message read: “I just received my Obama stimulus package. It was 3 pieces of chicken, a pack of kool-aid and a dime bag. Did u get yours?”

The Obama message was a major issue in the March 6 Democratic primary, in which Macejko challenged Mahoning County Prosecutor Paul J. Gains. Macejko lost by 561 votes.

Macejko said during the campaign he was not a racist, didn’t write or send that text, and didn’t see it until Feb. 13 of this year. He suggested it might be spam.

“We can’t have those kinds of racial slurs and disrespect for even our president to continue to permeate our community,” the Rev. Mr. Simon said. “It’s a shame that it happens, but when it happens, there has to be some discipline.”

“Based on the fact that our residents are almost 50 percent minority, we have all kinds of people in this community, and our prosecutor has to represent those people because he’s holding up the scales of justice,” Tarpley added. “If our prosecutor cannot do that, he just can’t work for this community.”

“Those kinds of things cannot go on, especially when you’re a prosecutor, and especially when you’re dealing with blacks; you’re dealing with whites every day in court,” said Thomas Conley, president of the Greater Warren-Youngstown Urban League.

“It’s unfortunate that this had to occur, but I think the mayor did the right thing,” he added.

MAYOR’S RATIONALE

Sammarone said, “The managing skills are not where I wanted them” in the city prosecutor’s office, nor was the accountability, adding that he emphasizes the importance of accountability and good management in all city departments.

The mayor said he would send Macejko a letter formally informing him of his termination from city employment, but he did not use the words discharged or fired with Macejko’s release.

Farris said Macejko did not resign and that no written report was prepared by the investigating committee.

Sammarone said investigating committee members read all the court documents in the federal lawsuit, including those that were recently unsealed, and met with the mayor to discuss them.

“The records show that actions displayed in the prosecutor’s office do not meet my standards on accountability and professional management,” Sammarone said. “Because of this, I’ve decided to change the leadership of the city prosecutor’s office,” he said. “Starting Monday, there’ll be a new city prosecutor.”

The mayor would not say if he thought anyone was dishonest in comments made concerning the lawsuit and documents within it.

Macejko was not in his office during the business day Wednesday or Thursday. Farris confirmed that Macejko removed his personal belongings from his city office at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

“He’s done a fine job on the Mill Creek Park board,” Judge Mark Belinky said of Macejko. “I don’t have any reason to remove him.”

Judge Belinky first appointed Macejko to the five-member Mill Creek MetroParks Board of Commissioners, effective Jan. 1, 2009, and re-appointed him to a second three-year term, effective Jan. 1. Park board members serve without compensation.

The park’s department heads speak highly of Macejko’s performance as a board member, the judge said.

Although he remains on the park board, Macejko resigned in an email at 12:27 p.m. Wednesday from the Ohio Criminal Sentencing Commission to which he had been appointed by former Gov. Ted Strickland.

“The new mayor informed me that he will be replacing me as city prosecutor. Seeing as how I sat on the commission by virtue of that position, I don’t think it appropriate that I continue to serve,” Macejko wrote in his email to the commission.

David Diroll, a Youngstown-native and commission executive director, said had Macejko not resigned, Gov. John Kasich would have had to replace him anyway because Macejko’s service on the commission was contingent on his being city prosecutor.

Macejko’s term on the sentencing commission would have run through Aug. 21, 2014.

The 30-member commission analyzes sentencing patterns and statutes and newly proposed sentencing legislation and its physical and financial impact on the state correctional system.

“Jay has always been a good, active member of the commission, and I hope things work out for him,” Diroll said.


Comments

1crlbk1052(99 comments)posted 2 years ago

Let's hope Lantz does her job and terminates the assistant prosecutor who turned over the messages from his cell phone. That person should, also, lose his job, whether he ratted on his boss or not. don't think you could trust this one either to be fair in the duties of the prosecutor's office.

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2kensgirl(540 comments)posted 2 years ago

I'm sure there's a hell of a lot in those unsealed documents that we don't know about and I'm sure other people are involved. Jay, why couldn't you man up and just admit what you did? This whole thing could have been avoided. All you had to do was apologize. People tend to forgive others if they are only truthful. Mayor Sammarone must have had concrete evidence or else he wouldn't have let Jay go. This is just another black eye on this valley. I just hope it doesn't make national news like every other story about Youngstown. Pretty soon someone's going to wise up and do a reality show about Youngstown. Maybe we can call it "Dancing with the Liars".

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3Lifes2Short(3867 comments)posted 2 years ago

Let me get this straight, Macejko was fired because, a Muslim filed a lawsuit because he didn't want to work on Fridays and Macejko received a joke about Obama on his cell phone, that has been hitting the net for awhile now, and not only his he fired but he's a racist because of that to? Amazing.
I don't know Macejko, not sticking up for him, but getting fired because of that?? Really.
We as a Society are getting to the point where we can't say nothing without someone being offended. Just saying..

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4ytownisajoke(31 comments)posted 2 years ago

You are right on lifes2short. Sammarone let the VIndy and Gains's nutcase supporters drive his decision. The CIty is less safe today. Very sad....

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5TiredTaxpayer(38 comments)posted 2 years ago

Talk about poor decisions from Mayor Sammarone. Bending to political pressure to launch an investigation into PERSONAL cell phone records (not a city phone) that aren't proved. Fire Macejko anyway and blames it on poor management. The hot head calls a press conference, insults the press and storms off. Hires a female colleague to supervise Bassil Ally. Do you really think that he will listen to a woman or anyone for that matter? He knows that he's untouchable and, therefore, will be impossible to supervise. He's probably on the phone with his lawyers wondering why he didn't the job. Good luck with this, Attorney Lantz. You've just been "promoted" into a position where it will be impossible to succeed.

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6dd933(216 comments)posted 2 years ago

I don't think the city is less safe. The Mayor said Jay was terminated because of a lack of leadership qualities, "managing skills" were the words used.
What's his record against misdemeanor offenders when they have a lawyer?
Ms. Lantz will not overlook the small stuff and fight for quality of life issues that have been ignored in the past.

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7vinglass(221 comments)posted 2 years ago

If everyone who told or listened to a joke about Obama lost his/her job, our unemployment rate would be 100%..

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8Billweaver480(52 comments)posted 2 years ago

There is a lot more to it than just a text message. All the files are on the pacer site available to the public. I have many copies listed on my site of the evidence against Macejko.

http://sites.google.com/site/billweav...

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9TiredTaxpayer(38 comments)posted 2 years ago

dd933 needs a reality check. Let me break this to you. Rome is burning! Who cares about low-level misdemeanors!?! The city is in deep, deep trouble. If it wasn't for V&M, the City would probably be under state watch. Mayor Sammarone is prone to make rash and/or political decisions without thinking it through.

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10USMC0331(150 comments)posted 2 years ago

There have been people who did a lot worse and have not been fired! Jay was a great prosecutor in the eyes of the police dept. and many others. He would bend over backwards for anyone. I ask anyone to come forward and tell me they have never received a text message that was a little questionable. If you say no you're lying. Mrs. Lantz will do a fine job she is a great attorney and I'm positive that she will go out of her way to get the job done just like Jay. As far as Jay letting small crimes plea? Lets not start pointing the finger because if we do the biggest finger will always point to the county prosecutors office. Its a joke over there!!!!

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11Lifes2Short(3867 comments)posted 2 years ago

ybd

"Jay got fired because he was a liar and a racist."

A liar? About what? Humor me? A racist? Really? A Obama joke and he's a racist? If that is the case, then everyone on this planet is a racist, because I'm sure you received jokes and such, and don't say you didn't, because you would be lying and I'm sure you laughed at a few.......just saying...

""Get a clue Lifes2short""

I have a clue, do you? Do you know the guy? Do you know him personally or are you one of those that only hear what others say about him?? Should'nt judge someone without knowing who that person really is. Not very fair, is it?

""Anybody who lies to their employer will get fired. He lied and continued to lie over and over.""

About what? Again you only listening to what the Media tells you or the ones that don't like the guy? Again, real fair to judge someone that you don't know.

""Anybody who disagrees with this is probably just like him. A bigot who is out of touch with reality.""

See there you go again, judging someone because they don't agree with you and labeling them. Would hate to have you as a friend. Ouch.

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12CountryGirl51(169 comments)posted 2 years ago

So i see Bret Hartup just got let go too. Is this a surprise, No ! Had to know that one was coming !

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13ghostofthepast(2 comments)posted 2 years ago

If he sent the text why not release the proof.

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14praxis95(51 comments)posted 2 years ago

Calling someone a racist without examining the accusation for the merits of the claim is foolish and a disservice to the community and civil discourse. No one has explained how a text message that can apply to every racial category that exists is racist.

The majority of chicken eating, kool aid drinking, dime bag using people are WHITE.

Mr. Macejko was fired b/c Mayor Sammarone did not have the back done or leadership skills necessary to see the accusation for what it is, dirty politics.

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15Billweaver480(52 comments)posted 2 years ago

It's not dirty politics, look at the facts, if Macejko was in the private sector and did the same thing to his subordinates, he would have been fired! so don't go saying it's politics, He screwed himself, tried to lie his way out and got busted! There is a lot more to it than just one text message!

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