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Antonini will serve five months in prison for failing to report cash gift

Published: Thu, November 14, 2013 @ 12:10 a.m.

Former Mahoning County treasurer fined $2,000 for failing to report cash gift



By Peter H. Milliken



Lisa A. Antonini, former Mahoning County treasurer and former Democratic Party chairwoman, is sentenced to five months in federal prison, followed by two years of supervised release, and fined $2,000 for failing to report a $3,000 cash gift.

The first five months of the supervised release will be on electronically monitored house arrest, and she must perform 150 hours of community service during her supervision period.

U.S. District Court Judge Sara Lioi imposed the sentence Wednesday on Antonini, who had pleaded guilty in June 2011 to a single count of honest services mail fraud.

Antonini must report to prison when the U.S. Marshals Service tells her, but not before Jan. 2, Judge Lioi ordered. As requested by Antonini’s lawyer, George Keith, the judge recommended that Antonini serve her time in a prison as close to Youngstown as possible.

“The sentence seems to be commensurate with sentences across the country in federal court” for similar offenses, observed James Gentile, a Youngstown lawyer, who represents defendants in criminal cases in federal court.

The sentencing range available to the judge was from probation to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Antonini admitted taking and failing to report a $3,000 cash gift from a local businessman Jan. 16, 2008, while reporting only a $200 contribution he gave that day by check to her primary campaign for county treasurer.

“In exchange, Antonini continued to support the businessman’s interests and understood she would take official action on his behalf if opportunities arose,” according to the information, to which she pleaded guilty.

Board of elections records show only Anthony M. Cafaro Sr., former Cafaro Co. president, as a contributor of $200 by check that day to her campaign.

Cafaro and his company were not charged with any crime concerning gifts to Antonini or her campaign.

Antonini, 44, of Youngstown, resigned May 16, 2011, as county treasurer, within hours after the U.S. attorney filed the information containing the charge against her.

Antonini, who has no prior criminal record, had signed her 17-page plea agreement with the U.S. attorney more than five weeks before the information was filed.

Her plea agreement said she needed to cooperate fully with any federal, state or local investigations and prosecutions, where authorities sought her assistance, if she wanted prosecutors to recommend maximum favorable consideration for her at sentencing.

The agreement obligated her to cooperate with authorities by “providing complete and truthful information, attending all interviews and debriefings, testifying truthfully before the grand jury and all court proceedings, if necessary,” and providing all documents and records authorities might request.

Justin Roberts, the assistant U.S. attorney who prosecuted Antonini, recommended leniency because he said she has been cooperating with the authorities.

“It’s obviously a very serious one,” Roberts said of the offense.

However, he added that the situation is “somewhat alleviated by this defendant’s decision to cooperate.”

Saying she has “genuine remorse,” Keith asked the judge to sentence Antonini to probation.

Antonini apologized to Judge Lioi for her “horrible judgment” and said she is “embarrassed and sorry” and accepts the seriousness of her crime.

“I’ve let myself, my family and my community down,” Antonini said.

“I was afforded a great opportunity to serve, and I blew it,” she added.

“This type of conduct is inimical to the interests of the public you were elected to serve,” Judge Lioi told Antonini, adding that a prison term for such conduct is necessary to deter others.

Honest services fraud alleges a public officeholder devised a scheme to defraud citizens of their right to honest services through bribery and the concealment of material information.

The information says Antonini failed to report the $3,000 cash gift on a financial disclosure statement she mailed to the Ohio Ethics Commission on or about April 1, 2009, “thereby not disclosing her self-enrichment and conflicts of interest while presiding as county treasurer.”

Antonini, who became county treasurer in March 2007, supervised the collection of real-estate taxes and the management and investment of the county’s money.

She was county Democratic Party chairwoman between June 2002 and April 2009.

Keith said he would have to discuss with his client whether the sentence should be appealed.

Roberts declined to comment on what, if any, inferences the public should draw from the lack of new corruption charges being filed against Mahoning County public officials or business leaders during the nearly 21/2 years between Antonini’s guilty plea and sentencing.

“I don’t think you could read anything into it,” Gentile said of the time lag.

Most federal corruption charges have a five-year statute of limitations, meaning no more than five years can elapse between the date of the offense and the filing of a criminal charge related to it, Gentile explained.


1author50(1121 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

For the most part, this is a repeat post, but I want my point made. For a lousy 3k, Lisa lost a job she could have kept for 30 plus years. She is made out to be a monster in our community, yet far more serious crime doesn't get reported or receive a sniff of comment from law enforcement.

George Lenehan and Jacob Harver of Rosetta Stone, Lemon Grove, Guys BBQ and now the Knoz building have fleeced the taxpayers out of hundreds of thousands and are made pillars of 'the new downtown' by the local media.

dumdem I'm one of those rooting for Lisa!

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2southsidedave(5189 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

At least she admits to her mistake, good luck and hopefully she can move on. The public has short memories and will forget in time.

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3harleydog(243 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

Yet the people of this area keep voting for the thug democrats who have been running the area for years. She is not the first and certainly will not be the last. Enjoy your stay in the pen Lisa. You deserve it.

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4glbtactivist(320 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

Lisa gets prison while the mobster who bribed her gets nothing. Strange. The other officials who took money too get nothing. Strange. Perhaps someone needs to check into the family finances of the judge.

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5golfdeanna(4 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

This is the most stupid sentence ever. She didn't report a cash gift. How many others have not reported cash gifts!!!!!!!! Probably many. The sentence doesn't match the crime. Prison really!!!!!!!! A fine would be good enough. We don't need to pay for her being in prison.

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6questionreality(728 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

Her lawyer and friends should have considered a letter writing campaign:


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7david1972(1 comment)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

Can't do the time don't do the crime. Isn't that what we tell everyone else who breaks the law? Just because she is sweet and nice does not excuse the fact she was another politician lying and stealing for her own personal benefit. Like this is the only time she took money under the table. C'mon man...

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8Buckeye1969(4 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

Why is Lisa the only one in trouble here? Did Cafaro money get them out of their criminal conduct once again?

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9bmanresident(607 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

Lol The Cafaro network stretches far and wide! Lisa should've been given the maximum sentence and not just the slap on the wrist that she did receive. The 3k was the only known bribe, perhaps there was more than that.
This scum of an official gets to wait until after the holidays to go to prison, do other regular citizens get afforded that luxury?

What about the Cafaros? Did they not break the law too, hmm. It appears other officials are on the payroll.

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10uptowngirl(139 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

The Democratic machine threw the woman under the bus. No one is going to throw Cafaro under the bus, they need his money. As far as Betras goes, he was jealous because Antonini was more popular with the party loyals than the almighty Betras.

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11walter_sobchak(2672 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

I believe Antonini took an oath of office to uphold the laws of the State of Ohio. So, she was ignorant of the law or just plain stupid to deal with the Cafaro's. What...she is the first officeholder to be sold down the river by the Cafaro's? She knew what she was doing and is lucky her punishment is not severe. When you dine with the devil, it is best to use a long spoon. Maybe she is cooperating with authorities; maybe not. I have no sympathy for her or any of these snake Democrats in this region. But, my advice to Lisa now that this is behind her: Pilates!

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12harleydog(243 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

Cronin served time for the same thing. Why should Antonini get off with a slap on the wrist?

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13TERRAPINST(320 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

Walter, have often thought your comments were articulate and well thought. Your unnecessary ugliness now lumps you in with the other idiots on the board.

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