By Peter H. Milliken
Maureen A. Cronin, a former Mahoning County judge, will be on supervised release for three years after serving her time in a prison camp at the Federal Correctional Institution in Greenville, Ill.
Cronin was sentenced to 27 months in federal prison and fined $4,000 by U.S. District Court Judge Sara Lioi after she pleaded guilty to two felony counts of honest-services mail fraud.
The former common pleas court judge left the prison Thursday morning, said Chris Burke, public affairs specialist at the U.S. Bureau of Prisons in Washington, D.C.
Cronin, 58, entered the federal prison March 24, 2010, and served slightly less than two years there because she earned 106 days of good-time credit for satisfactory behavior, Burke said. She must report to her probation officer within 72 hours of her release.
As of late Thursday afternoon, her brother, Bill, and a dog awaited her return to her Canfield Road residence, where a leprechaun figure bore a “Happy St. Patrick’s Day” message outside her door.
As he awaited her arrival after the 11-hour drive from the prison to Youngstown, the former judge’s brother said she would be granting no interviews with the press.
Maureen Cronin took an $18,000, no-interest cash loan from Flora Cafaro, part-owner of the Cafaro Co., in the back seat of Cafaro’s car, while that Youngstown-based shopping mall development and management company had civil cases pending in her court. Cronin also failed to report that loan on financial disclosure forms she mailed to the Ohio Supreme Court for 2006 and 2007.
At Cronin’s sentencing, her lawyer, J. Gerald Ingram, said she had turned to alcohol and gambling after her mother and longtime boyfriend died within a year of each other around 2004, and took the money in 2006 to help pay off her growing gambling debt.
At sentencing, Judge Lioi set these conditions of Cronin’s probation:
She must provide her probation officer with access to any requested financial information.
She must participate in an approved substance-abuse treatment program, including alcohol and drug testing, to determine if she has reverted to substance abuse.
She must participate in an outpatient mental-health treatment program as directed by her probation officer.
She must not participate in any legal or illegal gambling, including Internet or lottery gambling, nor frequent gambling establishments, nor associate with people involved in gambling.
She may not leave northern Ohio without the permission of Judge Lioi or her probation officer.
Cronin resigned in 2007 after more than 12 years as a common pleas judge, and she resigned from law practice early in 2010.
Before becoming the first woman to be elected as a common pleas judge in the county, she had been Youngstown city assistant prosecutor and prosecutor. She had earlier been a county children services board social worker.
Based on her 30 years of public service and her final annual judicial salary of $118,316, her monthly Ohio Public Employees’ Retirement System pension would be about $6,500.
Cronin’s pension will remain intact because her felony was committed prior to the May 13, 2008, effective date of a state law that requires public officials convicted of felonies to forfeit their pensions.
Julie Graham-Price, Ohio PERS communications manager, said she could not address the former judge’s specific situation, but she said pension payments generally would not be suspended during a retiree’s imprisonment for crimes committed before the law changed.
Before her federal conviction, Cronin was convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol in 2005 and 2007.
As a federal prisoner, she was housed with about 270 other inmates in a minimum-security satellite prison camp for women offenders adjacent to FCI Greenville.
The female prison camp is a dormitory-style facility, which provides inmate labor to the main institution and to off-site work programs.