A probate judge challenger points to the incumbent’s financial problems

By David Skolnick



Mahoning County Probate Court Judge Mark Belinky’s financial problems — including five judgments against him regarding unpaid taxes and a $20,000 loan as well as about 205 parking tickets in Youngstown with 42 unpaid — led Atty. Susan Maruca to challenge him in next year’s Democratic primary.

“The probate judge is responsible for managing the finances of our most-vulnerable friends and family members,” Maruca said Thursday. “The probate judge makes sure their bills are paid, debts are satisfied, and they are financially taken care of. These individuals cannot defend themselves. Today, more than ever, I [am] concerned about our probate court and our community.”

Maruca said Judge Belinky has at least four judgments against him regarding taxes that he has not paid, resulting in at least one lien against his Boardman home.

The judge was ordered Tuesday to have his wages garnished — he makes about $105,000 annually — to pay a $20,000 loan he borrowed Oct. 14, 2008, from Mike Pallotta of Naples, Fla., and $7,466.64 in interest on that amount.

Also, Judge Belinky has about 205 parking tickets in Youngstown between 2000 and 2013, including 53 while being a judge. He has 42 unpaid tickets, totaling more than $1,200 in outstanding fines, Maruca said.

The judge couldn’t be reached Thursday by The Vindicator to comment.

Judge Belinky has had other financial problems including owing about $32,000 in federal income taxes with the IRS filing a lien on his house in 2011. At the time, he told the newspaper that the debt stemmed from relatively large sums he earned as he closed out his private law practice, and that an insufficient amount of money was withheld for federal income taxes from his wife, Cynthia, in 2009.

Then-Gov. Ted Strickland, a Democrat, appointed Judge Belinky as probate court judge in December 2007.

Judge Belinky easily won the 2008 Democratic primary with 43.6 percent of the vote to 31.5 percent for Judge James Lanzo of Struthers Municipal Court and 24.9 percent for Maruca. He defeated Judge Scott Hunter of Mahoning County Area Court 56.2 percent to 43.8 percent in the 2008 general election for a six-year term.

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