OAKHILL CORRUPTION CASE: Dozens of documents 'concealed' from judge in 2006

By David Skolnick



In a failed lawsuit to rescind Mahoning County’s purchase of Oakhill Renaissance Place, a law firm and an attorney for a Cafaro Co. subsidiary as well as a businessman involved in the case “concealed” dozens of documents from the judge overseeing it.

Those claims are in a 145-page bill of particulars that provides details about a 83-count political corruption case against Youngstown Mayor John A. McNally during his time as Mahoning County commissioner, county Auditor Michael Sciortino and attorney Martin Yavorcik.

The bill of particulars was filed Wednesday in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court and first reported on Vindy.com.

It contends that a law firm and attorney for a businessman at the center of the probe “did conceal, or remove any record, document, or thing, with purpose to impair its value or availability as evidence in such proceeding or investigation.”

In August 2006, Ohio Valley Mall Co., a Cafaro Co. subsidiary, filed a lawsuit to rescind the county’s purchase of Oakhill, the former Forum Health Southside Medical Center. Visiting Judge Richard M. Markus ruled in July 2007 in favor of county commissioners.

The bill states an unnamed law firm and attorney “concealed” documents in the possession of “Businessman 1,” who is likely Anthony M. Cafaro Sr., retired head of the Cafaro Co. retail-development business, from Judge Markus.

The bill of particulars, which provides more-detailed information about the charges, said Judge Markus had ordered a law firm and attorney representing the businessman to provide “any and all written evidence” of communication with county officials and attorneys related to case.

“However, in reality, the following non-exclusive list of documents were concealed,” the bill reads.

That is followed by a list of close to 100 emails, handwritten notes and faxes, most between July 11 and Aug. 14, 2006, not given to Judge Markus, but are now in possession of prosecutors, according to the bill of particulars.

The correspondence includes those to and from McNally and Sciortino, both Democrats.

“In addition to not delivering or concealing these items from Judge Markus, Judge Markus was also presented with an email with tampered attachments,” the bill reads. “The email failed to provide the accurate documents that John McNally provided to Law Firm 1, and Law Firm 3 with one such document being the confidential offer of the Mahoning County commissioners which McNally disclosed in violation of Ohio law. That attachment was concealed from the email which was provided to Judge Markus.”

The bill added: “Law Firm 1 and Businessman 1 only provided Judge Markus with 12 pages of the handwritten notes of Businessman 1 when in fact there are scores of pages of handwritten notes. On the following dates known meetings occurred between Businessman 1 and the parties yet no notes were disclosed.”

The bill listed 24 of those meetings, specifically mentioning that some were with McNally, between Jan. 3, 2005, and June 17, 2007. The latter date was nine days before the judge’s ruling.

The May 14 indictment contends McNally, Sciortino and Yavorcik, along with others, conspired to keep the Mahoning County Job and Family Services department at Cafaro’s Garland Plaza on Youngstown’s East Side.

McNally was the sole dissenter when the other two county commissioners, Anthony Traficanti and David N. Ludt, voted in May 2006 in favor of relocating JFS from Garland to Oakhill Renaissance Place, the former Forum Health Southside Medical Center.

The charges in the indictment include engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, conspiracy, bribery, perjury, money laundering and tampering with records. The three have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The indictment accuses the three of being part of a criminal enterprise that traded money and other financial benefits, for political favors, lying under oath to protect business interests, and an agreement to fix legal cases.

The indictment and bill of particulars contend McNally, county commissioner at the time, and Sciortino received benefits for opposing the relocation.

Yavorcik is accused of accepting money from the businessman, Sciortino, McNally and others, and in exchange agreed not to investigate or prosecute members of the enterprise if he were elected county prosecutor in 2008, the indictment and bill of particulars say.

The Ohio Attorney General’s Office is leading the investigation with the assistance of the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office.

McNally, Sciortino, Cafaro and others were indicted in July 2010 on similar charges as the ones filed in this case related to attempts to stop the JFS move to Oak- hill while Yavorcik was indicted on money laundering for purportedly concealing a $15,000 payment to his failed 2008 independent bid for Mahoning County prosecutor.

A judge dismissed that 73-count indictment in July 2011 because the FBI wouldn’t provide about 2,000 hours of recordings reportedly involving at least one defendant.

The bill of particulars include the first disclosure of secret tape-recordings in early 2008 between an “informant” and Yavorcik as well as with Richard Goldberg, a felon and former attorney who worked on Yavorcik’s 2008 prosecutor campaign.

Prosecutor documents say Yavorcik promised to make the investigation against Sciortino, McNally, former county Treasurer John Reardon, then-county Treasurer Lisa Antonini, county Democratic chairwoman at the time, and “Businessman 1” go away if he was elected county prosecutor.

The bill also said Yavorcik failed to report donations on his campaign-finance reports and reported money given to his campaign from Antonini, Sciortino and Reardon as loans when they were bribes.

Dan Tierney, an AG spokesman, declined to comment if his office has some or all of those federal recordings.

The bill also contends the businessman and two of his companies provided at least $219,449 in free legal fees, considered bribes, to McNally, Sciortino and “John Doe 2,” who is likely Reardon.

The bill of particulars said Businessman 1’s company paid another law firm more than $800,000 in legal fees related to the Garland Plaza issue.

“In return, the various elected officials, public officials or public servants acted in a way showing that they had been compromised, corrupted or that another was acting with a purpose to improperly influence them,” the bill of particulars reads.

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