Top court accepts Belinky resignation from law practice
By Peter H. Milliken
The Ohio Supreme Court has accepted the resignation from law practice of Mark Belinky, who resigned March 14 as Mahoning County Probate Court judge and pleaded guilty May 8 to tampering with records.
The top court’s notice Thursday from Columbus said the resignation was with disciplinary action pending, but the report detailing the disciplinary matter has been filed under seal by the top court’s disciplinary counsel.
Belinky is scheduled to be sentenced on the records-tampering charge at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday by visiting Judge Ronald Suster in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court.
Belinky, 61, could face up to an 18-month prison term. The Ohio Attorney General’s Office, which is prosecuting the case, however, has recommended probation, not prison, for Belinky.
As part of the plea deal with the attorney general’s office, Belinky agreed to quit the Democratic primary for his seat, surrender his law license and continue to cooperate with the prosecution.
Investigators from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the FBI and Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office served search warrants at the probate court and at Belinky’s Boardman home Feb. 7, seizing bank, tax and campaign-finance records.
The bill of information to which Belinky pleaded guilty says he failed to record more than $7,500 in contributions, expenditures or loans to his campaign fund between Oct. 23 and Dec. 10, 2008.
After Belinky resigned his judgeship, Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor of the Ohio Supreme Court appointed visiting Judge R.R. Denny Clunk of Alliance, retired Stark County probate judge, as the interim Mahoning County probate judge.
Judge Clunk will swear in Robert Rusu, who was appointed by Gov. John Kasich to complete Belinky’s term as Mahoning County probate judge, at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday in the county courthouse rotunda. Belinky’s term expires Feb. 8, 2015.
Rusu is an independent candidate for a six-year term as probate judge in the Nov. 4 election, with Democrat Susan Maruca challenging him.