By Peter H. Milliken
and David Skolnick
Unsealed documents allege John A. McNally IV was in communication with the Cafaro concerns about Oakhill Renaissance Place, including faxing a confidential document.
As a result, McNally, a lawyer and Mahoning County commissioner, faced multiple criminal charges, including perjury and bribery, in the now-dismissed Oakhill criminal-conspiracy case.
McNally has decided not to run again for commissioner when his second consecutive, four-year term ends at the end of this year, and he has said he’s strongly considering running for Youngstown mayor next year.
In the Oakhill case, McNally was charged with lying under oath in his May 16, 2007, pretrial deposition in the Cafaro Co.’s unsuccessful taxpayer lawsuit to rescind the county’s purchase of Oakhill Renaissance Place.
McNally purportedly lied when he said he thought he didn’t become acquainted with Cafaro lawyers Tom Anastos and Isaac Eddington until his colleague, Anthony T. Traficanti, gave his deposition in the taxpayer suit Feb. 26, 2007.
“Defendant McNally’s statements appear designed to conceal the coordination he had with the Ohio Valley Mall [a Cafaro Co. subsidiary] in the filing of the taxpayer lawsuit,” the prosecutors said in the bill of particulars in the criminal case.
The prosecutors said Eddington emailed a draft of the taxpayer suit to McNally on Aug. 6, 2006, the day before it was filed in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court.
Emails also document communication between Eddington and McNally concerning the Oakhill bankruptcy case between Aug. 11 and 14, 2006, the prosecutors said.
McNally also falsely denied discussing with Anthony M. Cafaro Sr., then president of the Cafaro Co., Job and Family Service’s Northwoods computer system, which he, Cafaro, and JFS Director John Zachariah talked about in a May 17, 2006, meeting, the prosecutors said.
McNally denied talking to Cafaro about helping him keep the JFS lease at the Cafaro Co.-owned Garland Plaza, but the prosecutors said such discussions occurred between them in Aug. 8 and 16, 2005, and Feb. 13, 2006, meetings.
Another charge is bribery, alleging McNally received free legal services from Cafaro lawyers.
“The receipt of free legal services improperly influenced the defendant McNally, manifesting in false testimony under oath in an official proceeding, the deposition,” the prosecutors wrote.
McNally also was charged with disclosing confidential information when he allegedly faxed to a Cafaro lawyer on July 18, 2006, the Oakhill purchase offer made for the county by then-county Administrator George J. Tablack.
The county bought Oakhill in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for $75,000, subject to all liens and encumbrances, including back real estate taxes before the county bought the building and an Ohio Development of Development loan, each totaling about $400,000.
McNally couldn’t be reached Thursday by The Vindicator to comment on documents made public the day after the Ohio Supreme Court unanimously ordered a visiting judge in the Oakhill case to unseal them.
Those documents include the bills of particulars detailing alleged criminal accusations in the corruption case, dismissed a year ago. But McNally has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
The court made the ruling after The Vindicator and 21 WFMJ-TV filed a complaint with the top court seeking to have the documents made public.
County Democratic Party Chairman David Betras, an attorney, said McNally, Cafaro and the others in the dismissed Oakhill case — including county Auditor Michael Sciortino — are innocent and that the criminal charges were dismissed.
When asked about the dismissed accusations against McNally, Betras said, “A politician lying. Wow. Who hasn’t heard that before?”
When asked about McNally being charged with perjury, Betras said, “Being indicted still presumes you’re innocent. That word ‘lie’ gets thrown around an awful lot” in politics. “It’s an allegation that’s been dismissed, and that’s the extent of it. We’ve been over this already. The case has been dismissed.”
The case was dismissed in July 2011 because special prosecutors were unable to obtain tape recordings from the FBI that had to be shared with defense attorneys in the pretrial evidence exchange, known as discovery.