UPDATE | Belinky sentenced to house arrest, community service

YOUNGSTOWN — A judge sentenced Mark Belinky, former Mahoning County Probate Court judge, to community-controlled supervision today for a felony count of tampering with records.

Visiting Judge Ronald Suster, a retired Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court judge overseeing Belinky’s case, could have sentenced the disgraced probate judge to a prison sentence of up to 18 months. Instead, Belinky received 60 days of house arrest, 200 hours of community service and was fined $2,500. He was also put on probation for up to two years.

The Ohio Attorney General’s Office, which prosecuted the case, had said it didn’t oppose community-controlled supervision and no prison time for Belinky, a Democrat from Boardman.

Belinky, who resigned March 14 as judge, is cooperating with the AG’s office, which is investigating corruption in Mahoning County. He apologized to the court and said he was ashamed.

Belinky, 62, pleaded guilty to the fourth-degree felony on May 8, and surrendered his law license July 3.

The bill of information, to which Belinky pleaded guilty, states he failed to record more than $7,500 but less than $150,000 in contributions, expenditures or loans to his campaign fund between Oct. 23 and Dec. 10, 2008.

No further information was provided at today’s sentencing.

But Belinky’s 2008 post-general election report and a lawsuit filed against him show Mike Pallotta of Naples, Fla., loaned $20,000 to Belinky on Oct. 14, 2008. Belinky then gave $5,000 to his judicial campaign Oct. 23, 2008, and then $15,000 a day later with the report stating that money came from him.

Belinky was appointed probate judge in November 2007 by then-Gov. Ted Strickland, a Democrat, to fill a vacant seat. He was elected to a six-year term in 2008.

For the complete story, read Thursday’s Vindicator and Vindy.com

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