Former Mahoning County Treasurer John Reardon pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts of attempted election falsification for making false statements on documents related to money for his abandoned 2006 state auditor campaign.
Reardon, a Democrat from Boardman, was sentenced to five years’ nonreporting probation and a $2,000 fine in Franklin County Common Pleas Court. Half of the fine was suspended.
As part of Reardon’s probation, he cannot hold public office for the next five years, according to the Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office.
Reardon was found guilty of making false statements on state campaign finance reports about $51,950 in phony loans from family members and Lisa Antonini, then his chief deputy at the county treasurer’s office and county Democratic Party chairwoman. That was done to make it appear he had the money to be a strong candidate for state auditor in 2006.
He dropped out of the race before the primary that year, receiving $115,000 from the Ohio Democratic Party in March and August 2006 to pay off debt, some of which was later discovered to be fake, and money for a potential future political race.
Reardon’s actual debt at the time was only $15,255.17, according to a complaint filed in May 2012 by Gary Snyder, the county sheriff department’s inspector of special investigations, who worked with the FBI on a Mahoning Valley political corruption probe.
In a statement to The Vindicator, Reardon wrote, “The loans were legitimate and there was no intent to mislead in any way. At the time the reports were filed I believed everything to be properly reported. I now understand that I was mistaken, and I accept responsibility for my mistake.”
Reardon withdrew as a state auditor candidate in March 2006, saying at the time that party officials wanted a ticket with diverse backgrounds. The party chose Barbara Sykes, a black legislator from Akron, as its auditor candidate. She was the only Democratic statewide executive office candidate not to be elected in the 2006 election.
In May 2012, Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern said the party wanted the $115,000 back from Reardon. The state party continues to consider exploring options to recover that money.
Lou DeFabio, Reardon’s attorney, said the issues with the campaign checks were investigated for years by various prosecutors.
“From everything I know and everybody I know, it’s finally, mercifully over, and he can go on with his life,” DeFabio said.
Reardon served as county treasurer from 1998 to 2007, when he resigned to become state superintendent of financial institutions in then-Gov. Ted Strickland’s administration. He resigned from the state job in May 2010 just before he was indicted in the county Oakhill Renaissance Place conspiracy investigation. That case was dismissed in July 2011.