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What was Sciortino thinking?



Published: Sun, May 25, 2014 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Bertram de Souza (Contact)


The question above is rhetorical because Mahoning County Auditor Michael Sciortino obviously didn’t give much thought to his television appearance on May 15 during which he declared war on Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.

Democrat Sciortino must have had an “Oh, [expletive]!” moment when he later saw himself on WKBN 27 and realized that he had taken on the one man who could put him behind bars.

Attorney General DeWine is heading a state prosecution team that has secured grand jury indictments against Sciortino and Youngstown Mayor John A. McNally in the so-called Oakhill Renaissance Place scandal.

The charges against McNally relate to his tenure as a Mahoning County commissioner.

Court date

Both government officials, along with a Youngstown lawyer, Martin Yavorcik, will be arraigned Thursday morning in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court. The reason the case is being tried in Cleveland is because Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty had determined that some of the criminal acts pertaining to the effort to derail Mahoning County’s purchase of Oakhill Renaissance Place had occurred in his county.

McGinty asked DeWine and his staff to handle the prosecution of the case.

The 83-count indictment spells out the actions McNally, Sciortino, Yavorcik and others took to block the purchase of the former South Side Medical Center. Commissioners Anthony Traficanti and David Ludt voted to buy the complex and to make it the new home of the county’s Job and Family Services, which had been located for many years in the aged McGuffey Mall.

The Cafaro Co. of Youngstown, a leading shopping center developer in the country, owned the mall.

Although he was not mentioned by name, Anthony M. Cafaro Sr., retired president of the company, is portrayed in the indictment as the mastermind of the conspiracy.

Cafaro, McNally, Sciortino, Yavorcik and others faced charges in 2010 in the Oakhill scandal, but special state prosecutors dropped them when the FBI refused to hand over the 2,000 hours of video and audio recordings from its surveillance of some of the defendants in the case.

DeWine, who is seeking re-election this year, has sent shockwaves through the Valley by resurrecting Oakhill.

Never in their wildest political dreams did area Democrats expect DeWine to not only reopen this highly controversial case, but to bring charges that clearly connect the dots of the criminal enterprise.

Against that backdrop, Sciortino’s verbal attack on the attorney general was simply dumb. As any criminal lawyer will tell you, it doesn’t pay to alienate the man who’s carrying the big stick.

Here’s what the county auditor said on television, speaking into the camera:

“Well, Mr. DeWine, my campaign for county auditor is a campaign against you, Mr. DeWine. Your contributions, your pay-to-play, your pay for justice in Columbus. My campaign for auditor is a campaign against you.”

Sciortino is seeking re-election this year and was unopposed for the Democratic nomination in the May 6 primary. He faces Republican Bill Reese, a former Canfield Township trustee, in November.

Removal from office

However, the county auditor could be removed from his position by the Ohio Supreme Court, which will appoint a commission to review the charges and make a recommendation.

Does anyone doubt that the attorney general will have something to say about Sciortino’s fitness for office in light of the criminal indictments?

Since Sciortino is accused of committing the crimes in his capacity as county auditor, a state statute pertaining to his removal from office is applicable.

McNally, on the other hand, gets a pass because he is the mayor. He would have been targeted for removal if he were still a commissioner.

Sciortino, who spit the hook on a drunken driving charge because of a favor done for him by a high-ranking member of the sheriff’s department, may have been under the illusion that he was dealing with some local yokel.

Thus the question: Which Sciortino will show up for Thursday’s arraignment — the contrite, respectful auditor, or the mouthy James A. Traficant Jr. wannabe?


Comments

1handymandave(551 comments)posted 6 months, 4 weeks ago

Sciortino has the same problem that many officials in The Mahoning Valley have. He believes he's untouchable. Soon he will be knocked out of the county auditor seat and it will be a good start of future lessons to be learned. These politicians have believed they're way too powerful to be bothered with the rules that apply to average individuals. It's going to be a pleasure to watch his entire downfall.

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2ysuguins99(12 comments)posted 6 months, 4 weeks ago

Sciortino is an obnoxious, smug punk! Maybe he can bring his band with him to jail and play for his fellow inmates?

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3Roger_Thornhill(626 comments)posted 6 months, 4 weeks ago

It looked like Sciortino had been drinking. Imagine that.

Here is what is going to happen:
1. Ohio Supreme Court will appoint three judges to review Magic Mike and his situation.
2. He will be suspended with pay from office.
3. Betras will work hard to get Sciortino reelected for 3 reasons:
A. Sciortino will owe Betras if Sciortino gets reelected
B. If Sciortino wins relection but then is convicted, Betras gets to pick the person who is appointed auditor to replace Sciortino.
C. Betras has been a friend of the Cafaros.

4. Sciortino defeats Reese in Novemmber even though Sciortino is suspended from office.

5. Sciortino lingers on with pay as suspended auditor until he is convicted.

6. Once convicted Sciortino is permanently removed from office and goes to big house.

7. Betras gets to pick a new auditor.

8. And even though Sciortino will have gone months, possibly years as the unworking, suspended with full pay auditor the worst possible scenario of all will have been averted: A Republican county auditor.

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4papa1(696 comments)posted 6 months, 4 weeks ago

one Traficant was one too many. it's time to drain the swamp.

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5Roger_Thornhill(626 comments)posted 6 months, 4 weeks ago

http://wkbn.com/2014/05/14/sciortino-...

Remarks by Sciortino at 1:29 into the interview.

Why didn't the previous Ohio attorney general go to the Ohio Supreme Court to have determination as to whether Sciortino should be suspended from office when Sciortino was indicted in 2010?

Only 3 possibilities I can think of:
1. Political favor
2. Incompetence
3. Law changed since 2010

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6kurtw(938 comments)posted 6 months, 4 weeks ago

Oh, well, same old, same old! Where would local newspaper writers be without corrupt local officials to write about? If they didn't exist, they would have to be invented- paraphrasing Voltaire.

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7ysuguins99(12 comments)posted 6 months, 4 weeks ago

gdog, If Sciortino really believes that Morley can get him out of this, he's greatly mistaken. He's now dealing with the state AG. These aren't the typical Mahoning Valley local-yokal dummies. DeWine has direct lines to the Department of Justice.

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82muchtax(410 comments)posted 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Well if scoritino gets convicted maybe TJ assion can fire up the sheriffs taxi one more time and they can party all the way to prison! Sheriff green should lock up TJ right along with scoritino for making him look bad right from the get go! Hopefully he can weed out the idiots in the dept and revitalize the sheriffs dept image!

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9joseph(47 comments)posted 2 months ago

Sciortino did nothing wrong and it'll come out sooner or later

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