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Antonini sings like a canary

Published: Sun, November 17, 2013 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Bertram de Souza (Contact)

If you’re an officeholder whose lips are firmly planted on the derriere of someone with the means — and the desire — to buy your loyalty, you had better extricate yourself post-haste. Otherwise, you could get caught in the federal dragnet.

Public corruption in the Mahoning Valley is once again on the radar screens of the FBI and U.S. Attorneys Office — just as it was 15 years ago when 70 of the Mahoning Valley’s “movers and shakers,” including mobsters, judges, a prosecutor, a sheriff and other politicians were convicted.

The convictions came on the heels of the federal government’s crackdown on government corruption and organized crime in the Valley. At the top of the list was Mafia boss Lenine “Lenny” Strollo, who got a break on his sentence after he agreed to assist the feds in their national probe of La Cosa Nostra. He also agreed to cooperate in any federal, state and local investigations and prosecutions.

The list included Phil Chance, the former sheriff of Mahoning County; the late James Philomena, former county prosecutor; and Patrick Kerrigan, former Youngstown Municipal Court judge.

If the deal struck by mob boss Strollo sounds familiar, it’s because Lisa Antonini, former Mahoning County treasurer and ex-county Democratic Party chairwoman, has made a similar arrangement with the U.S. Attorneys Office in Cleveland. In return, Antonini will spend five months in prison for taking a $3,000 bribe from Anthony M. Cafaro Sr., retired president of the Cafaro Co.

Quid pro quo

As county treasurer, she had promised to support Cafaro’s interests and take action on his behalf.

So, how do we know that the former party chairwoman is providing a road map of government corruption to the federal government?

Because the assistant U.S. attorney in her case told U.S. District Court Judge Sara Lioi that Antonini had been extremely cooperative over the two years since she pleaded guilty to one felony count of honest-services mail fraud — bribery in everyday lingo.

And, because Antonini confirmed that cooperation when she addressed Judge Lioi prior to her sentencing.

“I let myself, my family and the community down. I was afforded a great opportunity, and I blew it. I am sorry, and hope in some way, standing here and trying to cooperate makes amends for wrongs I have done.”

Yes, Antonini, who during her tenure as head of the county Democratic Party hobnobbed with the rich, the famous and the slimy, is singing like a canary.

She not only has inside information of how money, the root of all political evil in the Mahoning Valley, flows to candidates and officeholders, but also has had a front-row seat to the operation of county government.

The information she provided to the feds must be of great importance to the FBI’s continuing investigation of government corruption in the Valley, or else she would be heading off to prison for much longer than five months.

But while the hearing last week has put the sources of corruption on notice that the noose is being tightened, law-abiding residents are understandably cynical about those who have wielded power for so long in the region ever being brought to justice.

Judge Lioi, in comments not only in the Antonini case, but in other cases, including that of former Mahoning County Common Pleas Judge Maureen Cronin, has made it clear that the public trust is sacred. She has little patience with officeholders and other officials who have broken that trust.

Harsh treatment

She now needs to demonstrate that individuals who have no qualms about using their power and wealth to buy influence in government are treated just as harshly.

For too long, the region has seen corrupt public officials being carted off to prison or jail but nothing being done to those who have been the corrupters of government.

As long as there isn’t a price to pay for bribing an elected official, bribery will continue to be a part of the Valley’s political landscape.

Last week’s sentencing of Antonini should open the door to an all-out campaign by the feds to rid the region of the corrupters of government.

Thus, a word of advice to officeholders whose lips are firmly planted on the backsides of the men of power and might: Stop kissing and start talking — to the FBI. It’s your only hope.


1TERRAPINST(321 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

5 months in PRISON and no more indictments or convictions doesn't really seem like singing. The max Antonini was eligible for was 14 months. Sentence here probably won't entice too many folks to "cooperate" what's the point? Message here, never talk make them, prove it.

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2author50(1121 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

The 'hanging' Judge that Mr. DeSouza thinks Judge Loi is, just let a man involved in the huge Cuyahoga County scandal off with five months home probation AND he didn't give anyone up, He just funneled taxpayer funded kickbacks from PO X to PO Z (For Betram PO stands for public official).

As the lover of the Grateful Dead TERRAPINST points out -- don't talk, make them prove it. Sort of like a OVI. Don't cooperate by blowing or doing the field test, you give the government ammo to use against use. Or hope that the Sheriff's office likes you and gives you a ride home AFTER unarresting you.

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3greevey(23 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

Bertram, you & the Vindy are so gullible! You bit hook, line and sinker. Antonini never got a bribe. Why don't you dig deeper for the real story. If you were to do so, you'd see that Antonini copping to taking a bribe from Cafaro was fabricated. She had to make up something the Feds wanted to hear in order to avoid her real crime which was her kick backs from American Tax Funding LLC - the company Antonini hired when she was Treasurer to buy the county's delinquent tax liens. The alleged cash payment was nothing more than a ruse - it never happened that's why Cafaro was never charged. But at the time the Feds were asking anyone & everyone for dirt on Cafaro because of Oakhill. So, Antonini knew that she'd be able to get the best deal if she were able to give info on Cafaro....even if it was a total lie. C'mon, start reporting the real story or would that mean you'd have to admit that you've been wrong for the past five years while you've been advancing your personal vendettas and agendas?

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4Nom_De_Plume(60 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

Oh, foolish little man. Again, your mean spiritedness and personal agendas blind you from the truth. You were fed a bill of goods by Gains and Tablack on Oakhill. I love how you are now clinging to what little journalistic integrity and ability that you once had and trying desperately to make it seem like more trouble is coming. Can't admit you are wrong! Love it! Even if she provided information - and that's a big IF - the statutes of limitation are passed. Nothing will ever come of this and you will just fester and rot in your own hatred. I love it! You, Sweetwood, and the whole miserable crew at Vindy were played for fools!

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5questionreality(736 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

Mere opinion is not hard evidence
- Vonnegut

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6Nom_De_Plume(60 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

One final thought: The last line of Bert's article reminds me of being in high school when the principal would come on and say, "We know who you are. Come to the office." Too funny. Bert now thinks he can level threats for the Feds; the same Feds who ignore him when he demands information and action. I'll be laughing all say about this one.

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7Silence_Dogood(1675 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

Of the several dozen people that have gone to jail over the last twenty five plus years of corruption in the valley, there is one common thread. They all cloak themselves in the cloth of the Democrat party. Now that is a track record that gdog should be proud of.

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8greevey(23 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

The Feds had dirt on Antonini and the deal the county made with American Tax Funding (which they think she was getting kickbacks on) so she had to tell the Feds whatever they wanted to hear....and everyone knew that the Feds wanted to get a big fish like Cafaro at all costs. That's how the DOJ operates these days. Connect the dots:


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9TERRAPINST(321 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

Greevey; Normally like your statements. Waaaaaaaaaaay off on the ATF stuff with Antonini. Wasn't her that as looked at it was others and there wasn't enough Please everybody understand that if the feds had anything on anybody passed what they did (actually did not) it would have been used. There is no grand jury, there are no pending charges, this was and is as big as it will ever be. Pretty pathetic huh? What folks want and what is real are not in anyway synonymous. Its like all other conspiracy theories, just can't believe this is as good as it gets so folks CREATE. Its over. Again, its over. The big bust-3,000.00 unreported campaign contribution. Does it really seem consistent that the feds were just being nice, or holding back? Its over.

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10kurtw(1822 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

Bertram said: "the root of all political evil in the Mahoning Valley is money". That really isn't true- it misses the point. It mistakes the symptom for the cause: the cause of the dysfunctional political system in the Mahoning Valley is- Monopoly Control. We have one group of people- the Democrat Machine- running things year in, year out, and nobody questions that- until the corruption gets to be so great that it can't be ignored anymore- as fifteen years ago- and then the Feds (Elliot Ness and the "Untouchables"!?) have to come in and clean up- it lasts for a few years but then things start getting back to "normal"- and then, as before, the corruption reaches a point where it can't be ignored, and the Feds have to come back to clean up all over again- and so the whole vicious cycle goes on.

What we have to realize is that its not the people in the system that corrupt the system, but it's the system itself- Monopoly Control- that corrupts everybody in it. Bring in new people and the outcome will be exactly the same- after a few years the Feds will have to come in and "clean up" all over again.

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11kurtw(1822 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

I have a question. It may seem naive- I'm just a "commoner"- no political connections of any kind, but, on another thread, I read that "Terrapinst" is actually Davey Betras, Chairman of the local Democrats (sic). Is that true?

I mean, I can't be sure, but many of his posts do read as if written by an accomplished Shyster and Ambulance Chaser (not to mention a brilliant Defense attorney and Political Strategerist). For instance, in this thread, the line "Never talk, make them Prove it." is exactly what you'd expect a Defense Attorney to say to a client he knows- in his heart of hearts (assuming there is one)- to be guilty as sin. Also, in post 14- Terra seems to have more than a layman's knowledge of the criminal justice system- "there is no Grand Jury- there are no pending charges, etc. etc.- this is as big as it will ever be"- not to mention the defensive tone of the entire comment- just like a Lawyer in high gear.

I hope somebody can clarify this for me so that, the next time I see Davey huffing and puffing at the Davis Y, I can walk up and call him- TERRAPINST. I'll ask for his autograph: Dave Betras aka "Terrapinst".

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12TERRAPINST(321 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

I am faar from Betras, however because you believe everything you read on the internet Kurt, my last name is Wayne..Bruce Wayne...... I'm Batman. There is no Federal Grand Jury just the hopes and dreams of the nut brigade. Hi Rick

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13kurtw(1822 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

I don't believe everything I read on the internet, Terra,- far from it- my post was a question, remember- and as far as my belonging to the "nut brigade", as you seem to imply- "People in Glass Houses", you know...

P.S. And if I insulted you by thinking you were Shyster & political con-artist Dave Betras, I apologize. For all I know, you may belong to a perfectly reputable trade: telemarketer, used car salesman, or a collection agent.

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14TERRAPINST(321 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

You know Kurt the reason why you're a dick is that you just implied that telemarketers, collection agents or people who sell previously owned vehicles are in some way disreputable. In a previous post you compared those legally pursuing gay rights to "masturbators' I mean don't rely on me or the internet, I bet you can find a lot of people you know to agree that you are in fact a penis. As for knowledge of the criminal justice system, I do in fact like to know what I am talking about before I speak-might wanna try that out sometime.

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15kurtw(1822 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

Good one, Terra! Nice Post- I've been called a Dick before- and far worse, many times- and it doesn't bother me- I guess, if you want to dish it out, you have to be willing to take it, too.

I know the 3 occupations I mentioned are not disreputable, I just used them to highlight how I feel about somebody like Dave Betras and what he does. I guess I do have a mental block where Shysters and sleazy politicians are concerned. Everybody has a prejudice of some kind, right? For instance when you talk about the "Nut Brigade". What does that mean?

P.S. As for my comparison of Gay Activists to Masturbators, I wasn't trying to disparage or satirize either group, only a kind of political activity where sexuality is paraded on Main Street as a badge of honor. What people do in their bedrooms, ought to stay there, in my view.

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16TERRAPINST(321 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

Keep defending your bigotry and prejudice Kurt W. Im quite sure you HAVE been called a dick before and far worse and it obviously doesn't bother you because you see, you continue to act like a dick. Terrapinst 2-KurtW-0-keep trying bro, you're not a very formidable opponent.

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17TERRAPINST(321 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

Hey Berger, you know you are Valley politics and formerly FLICK-hence Flick no longer posts. Pretty sure your waaaay familiar with felony charges and their consequences. I looooovvvee that you think Im Dave Betras that means youre not even close. But I am aren't I? How's that book selling buddy? Any significant employment lined up? I thought you said the feds are corrupt. Soo easy man......

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18TERRAPINST(321 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

My line floats in the water-waiting for the nut brigade to swallow the worm.

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19kurtw(1822 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

Ok, Terra, Dave, whoever you are- the reason that being called a dick doesn't bother me is because it's just somebody else's opinion, that's all. And if you think I'm a bigot and prejudiced- that's also only your opinion and I'm not going to lose any sleep over it. Also, if I wanted to go over all your posts, I'm sure I could find lot's to criticize, but that would be a huge waste of time.

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20kurtw(1822 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

One more thing, Dave, sorry, Terra, in post #22 you kept score for us- Terra-2; kurtw-o.
So you're the scorekeeper now, as well as one of the combatants- I thought a neutral party normally handled that job?

Using the courtroom analogy now, that would be similar to two attorneys fighting it out- Prosecution vs. Defense (you)- but there's no judge or jury to decide the outcome. Only you. You get to decide, as you decided in your post. Smacks of Bullyism to me- but then again, if you are Dave- he's noted for that.

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21kurtw(1822 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

Terra (Dave), I think the line floated back on you and you swallowed your own worm!

Next time, try casting out a little further- give it a little more elbow grease, right.

P.S. But if you're looking for "nuts" to catch (assuming you are Dave) why do you have to cast out at all- look around you- some of your own fellow-members of the "Democrat Machine" are highly eligible- and you don't have to "cast out" for them at all- they're right there in front of you.

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22TERRAPINST(321 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

kurtw you cannot belive the joy you have brought me as my friends and I read your posts and realize the dick that you are. Me thinks though dost protest......... I have bothered you, you respond hastily and its now Terra-3, Kurtw-0. Ask any neutral party you want, but dicks are usually easily recognized and there is no objectivity regarding them. Bigots and judgementalists are easily seen but nothing is more apparent than a dick. Another thing you're wrong about my identity. Be careful though accusations of criminal conduct can be seen as defamatory and the court will subpoena your ip address so Betras can sue you. Listen to your mom and dad's advice just be quiet now.

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23TERRAPINST(321 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

Valleypolitics, the true leader of the nut- brigade. Probably one of those folks whose never accomplished much of anything, never will, sits back and armchairs about local politics without ever having really been involved and or taken seriously. Oh yeah like Berger. See here's the difference I'm just spouting opinion which can of course be wrong-see I just think your out of you conspiratorial mind, however to accuse someone of illegal misconduct is altogether different. While I am not Betras, it doesn't take a lawyer to know that. By the way Rick you need to stop writing in the same format on all your separate social media pages.....dead giveaway. Ahhh what lure to use next to cajole the crazies out into the open...oh yeah in my opinion.....whackballs all around this board

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24kurtw(1822 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

Ok, Mystery Guest, I'm glad my posts have brought you and your friends some amusement. That's fine. I'm happy about that (which really means I don't give a crap one way or another) and I see you're still keeping score- you have it Terra-3; Kurt-0. Well, ok, good for you. Isn't it a shame that debates and legal contests in a court don't work that way- where one party gets to keep score, but if it makes you and your friends happy, fine. You win.

P.S. As far as who is the bigger dick, you or me, again- I'll let you win. Maybe, you are so interested in "dicks" because you suffer an inadequacy in that department.

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25kurtw(1822 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

I don't believe- I could be wrong here- I ever accused D.B. of any criminal conduct. A couple of the other posts have- one said" five years for Dave isn't long enough". Are you going to sue him?

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26kurtw(1822 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

I just talked to "mom and dad". I told them all about it and I asked their advice: "What should I do" and I let them look at this thread- every entry from Terra, and they gave me this advice: "Let it go, son, the guys obviously a dick".

I think you should always listen to your parents...

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27kurtw(1822 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

You know, if D.B. does lose his shyster license, then it would be a good opportunity for him and some of the other local disbarred attorneys- lets see, Marc Dann (or did he get his back?), Pat Kerrigan, Maureen Cronin, Richie Goldberg, and I'm running out of fingers to count here- there's too many- to form a club and get together every week (maybe at Mr Anthony's?) to kibitz and reminisce about "the good old days". The Vindicator could cover it as an "old timers" event. Make a nice feature. Lenny Strollo could be one of the keynote speakers- discussing "openness and honesty" and I'm sure Bishop Murray would send over a priest to say the Invocation.

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28author50(1121 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

@Kurtw and @Valley Politics. I can't believe that David Betras would use the nome de plum of TERRAPINST. I think "Shakedown Street" would be a better moniker.

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29TERRAPINST(321 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

Kurtw. You always respond to yourself? Some rise, some fall, some climb---to get to Terrapin.

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30phankymaloon(3 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

I think TERRAPINST is Bertram Desouza. While the storyteller speaks
a door within the fire creaks
suddenly flies open
and a girl is standing there.

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31phankymaloon(3 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

One thing I do know is that Kurtw is a dick. Bertram nailed that one.

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32TERRAPINST(321 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

I cant figure out
If its the end or beginning
but the train put its brakes on
and the whistle is SCREAMING-TERRAPIN!
Thank you phankartist-Terra 4-Kurtw-0
see I told you everyone knows Kurt!!!

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33kurtw(1822 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

I'm going to get off this thread, for good, but before I do, I want to make a statement: I should have confined my remarks to the first post- which said everything I have to say about this issue- and left it at that- the others were a mistake- beside the point, and way too personal (to be honest- when I made them I'd had too much to drink and was in shock when I saw them next morning).

Everybody who uses this website to express their opinions is entitled to privacy and the right to maintain their anonymity- if they choose- and because a particular individual is prominent- doesn't change that. It was wrong of me to go after Terra the way I did because I read on another thread he might be D.B. and to pry into that- it's none of my business.

I think my judgment in the matter was clouded by a: alcohol and b: the strong feelings I have about the dysfunctional state of local politics but, as I said in another thread, the system is the problem- not the people in it and to attack and demonize some of them (such as Party Chairman Betras)- is not fair- I'm sure, taken as individuals, these are good people and that includes Mr. Betras.

As for Mr. Betras, as far as his professional reputation as an attorney is concerned- I've heard nothing but good things about him (apart from the political stuff). In fact, I learned a few things about legal matters listening to him on the Ron Verb show- I thought he made a very good impression- competent and very professional. (The talk about "Shyster" and "ambulance chaser" that really wasn't a personal attack- I call all lawyers that, routinely,- the same way I call doctors "saw bones" and "quack")

Finally, I truly regret any offense and pain my remarks may have caused. I just have to be more careful and keep the dysfunctional example of Anthony Weiner in mind- not that I've ever done any thing that serious- no matter how much I may have had to drink

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34phankymaloon(3 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

KurtW I was mistaken you much more resemble the female sexual organ than the male one. Jesus lighten up Francis. Pour yourself a stiff one and relax. Terrapinst wins by TKO!

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35kurtw(1822 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

Phanky, I reject either characterization- I don't consider stepping up to the plate and admitting a mistake to be effeminate or "weak"- apparently you do. That's your business. I stand by what I said: I should have stayed with the first post and left it at that.

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36kurtw(1822 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

You know, I wasn't going to say more on this thread, but I have one final thought:

I Admit Defeat. Terrapinst, you win. Final score: Terrapinst- 4; Kurtw-0. I throw in the towel.

I have a suggestion, maybe if you approached Mrs. J. and Mark Brown they would print up a nice Certificate for you- something special with gilt edges on vellum- almost like a Law Degree- that showed the entire thread- every comment- with the final score. You could take it home, have it framed and put it up in your den or office. Wouldn't that be great- quite a conversation starter!

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37Askmeificare(1226 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

Every here who posted, please help me understand:

So kurtw is a self entitled, alcoholic, homophobic, unintelligent, assuming, egotistic fool, masterbating the frog, fears the fat man, shyster accuser, adjective rejuvenator, pain in the ass?

I'm simply asking for clearification friends.

Thank you.

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38mnascar(38 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

Reading these posts shows us how much intelligence there is in the valley. If you go back and read through them, we are blessed with these people running the government. Sure have to look hard to duplicate this group.

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