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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(302 comments)posted 10 months, 1 week 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 10 months, 1 week 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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3Knightcap(699 comments)posted 10 months, 1 week ago

Keep voting democrat. We'll get it right one of these years. Lets' see who gets cleaned up first, Chicago, Detroit, D.C., Cuyahoga or here.

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4greevey(23 comments)posted 10 months, 1 week 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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5Nom_De_Plume(54 comments)posted 10 months, 1 week 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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6Nom_De_Plume(54 comments)posted 10 months, 1 week 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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7valleypolitics(88 comments)posted 10 months, 1 week ago

Finally an acknowledgement that yes indeed there is a Federal investigation going on, welcome to the party Bert!

Please allow me to correct the notion that this is about Oakhill, because it isn't. For those that think the statute of limitations has passed and they are safe, they aren't, all of those being investigated have committed federal crimes that have nothing to do with Oakhill.

Even though many knew (except you Bert) that people were and still are being investigated by the FBI they continued to commit crimes and or committed new ones. The idiots just kept doing business as usual.

" 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 same thing is going to happen now with at least that many people going down for their crimes, lead by his royal highness, the Chairman of the Democratic Party.

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8Silence_Dogood(1342 comments)posted 10 months, 1 week 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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9UticaShale(854 comments)posted 10 months, 1 week ago

So Greevy, wasn't it Reardon who sold Tax Liens? And who are you saying in American Tax Funding is taking bribes?

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10greevey(23 comments)posted 10 months, 1 week 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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11TERRAPINST(302 comments)posted 10 months, 1 week 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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12valleypolitics(88 comments)posted 10 months, 1 week ago

There has been a federal grand jury in Cleveland.

Some of the attempts at misdirection are pathetic, do any of you really think you can post that bs here and it will stop any investigation?? LMFAO!!!!

What do those cards in Monopoly say, GO TO JAIL, GO DIRECTLY TO JAIL.

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13TERRAPINST(302 comments)posted 10 months, 1 week 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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14TERRAPINST(302 comments)posted 10 months, 1 week 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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15TERRAPINST(302 comments)posted 10 months, 1 week 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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16valleypolitics(88 comments)posted 10 months, 1 week ago

Hey TERRAPINST, I mean Dave, are you off your meds???

Try to face the reality that you are going to jail and lose your ticket to practice law. Maybe they can arrange it so you and Lisa can be held at the same facility and you guys can talk shop!

How you fixed elections, got friends and family members jobs in exchange for votes, made numerous promises that were never kept, and in general screwed over the people in this valley.

5 months for Lisa is too long, 5 years for Dave isn't long enough!

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17TERRAPINST(302 comments)posted 10 months, 1 week 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(302 comments)posted 10 months, 1 week ago

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

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19TERRAPINST(302 comments)posted 10 months, 1 week 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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20valleypolitics(88 comments)posted 10 months, 1 week ago

Interesting Dave, I mean TERRAPINST, I guess the reverse is also true, the court can subpoena your ip address, which will result in all of us finding out who you really are, except we already know who you are!

Your big mouth never shuts up and you tell people things when you're drunk like, "that's me on the vindy board".

So what do you think the court will do to you when your true identity is revealed? Can the OSC pull your ticket for being stupid?

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21TERRAPINST(302 comments)posted 10 months, 1 week 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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22author50(1121 comments)posted 10 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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23TERRAPINST(302 comments)posted 10 months ago

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

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24phankymaloon(3 comments)posted 10 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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25phankymaloon(3 comments)posted 10 months ago

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

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26TERRAPINST(302 comments)posted 10 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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27phankymaloon(3 comments)posted 10 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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28valleypolitics(88 comments)posted 10 months ago

Well KurtW you let that jackass off the hook. It's ok he knows what he has done, and how many people he has screwed over.

At the end of the day we will all know and I will be smiling from ear to ear.

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29Hlecter(59 comments)posted 10 months ago

Lmao Are you guys serious?

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30UticaShale(854 comments)posted 10 months ago

This is just the side effect here of boredom and Vindy insignificance.

What we all should do is start our own post with real issues needed in this dead town. For instance:

Will the new Mayor throw the bums out, all of them?

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31Askmeificare(700 comments)posted 9 months, 3 weeks 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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32mnascar(36 comments)posted 9 months, 3 weeks 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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33valleypolitics(88 comments)posted 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Did you see our very own Hezbollah terrorist on TV this morning?

TERRAPINST aka Dave the camel rider Betras on WFMJ.

Hello, homeland security we have a problem, come to Youngstown fast!

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