Why’s the trial in Cleveland?
- On the side
Say what?: The National Republican Congressional Committee attacked the Democratic candidates in the Ohio’s 6th and 14th Congressional Districts for taking money from the House Majority PAC (Political Action Committee) one day and then turned around and mocked them for the Super PAC not reserving television commercial time for them.
The NRCC also incorrectly contends House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi runs the Super PAC.
NRCC emails Wednesday quoted Andrea Bozek, its communications director, saying the “reason Pelosi is funding the campaigns of” Jennifer Garrison in the 6th and Michael Wager in the 14th is “she knows they will be in her pocket if they make it to Congress.”
The next day, an NRCC email said "Pelosi’s" Super PAC “snubbed” Garrison and Wager by reserving $6.5 million for TV commercials for Democratic candidates, but nothing for either of them.
“National Democrats have given up on both Jennifer Garrison and Michael Wager’s lackluster campaigns for Congress,” said Katie Prill, an NRCC spokeswoman. “Once prized Washington recruits, both Garrison and Wager have proven they are unelectable and won’t be future members of Congress.”
A political corruption indictment brought Youngstown Mayor John A. McNally, Mahoning County Auditor Michael Sciortino and attorney Martin Yavorcik to Cleveland to be arraigned on 83 criminal charges.
Jennifer Scott, Yavorcik’s attorney, is openly questioning why the case against the three is being handled in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court rather than in Mahoning.
McNally and Sciortino, among others, were indicted in July 2010 on similar charges of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activities, perjury, bribery, conspiracy, money laundering and tampering with records. Yavorcik was also indicted, but for money laundering.
The indictments were dropped in July 2011 after it was learned the FBI had about 2,000 hours of surveillance tapes of at least one of the defendants in the state case and wouldn’t turn them over.
While omitting the reason why the case was dismissed in Mahoning County, Scott said Thursday, “I think they had to come up with a new theory or strategy and obviously they believe there are enough ties to Cuyahoga County to bring it here. However, I find it curious that it was dismissed without prejudice in Mahoning County and could have been brought back there.”
Addressing the media for the first time since the May 14 indictment, Yavorcik said, “I believe I will get a fair trial whether it’s here in Cuyahoga County or in Mahoning County.”
As I wrote in a May 16 column there are several reasons why the case is being handled in Cuyahoga instead of Mahoning. At the top of the list is jurors won’t know any of the defendants or any of the other key targets in this investigation.
The educated guess is most or all of the 2,000 hours of tapes were turned over by the feds to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, which indicted the three on May 14. The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office is assisting with this case.
While the indictment is largely the same as the one from 2010, there is one glaring change.
Rather than one count of money laundering as in the original indictment against Yavorcik, the new one has 27 felonies against the attorney.
They include 17 counts of tampering with records, four counts of money laundering, three counts of bribery, two counts of conspiracy and one count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity.
The heat is turned up considerably on Yavorcik in this indictment.
It accuses him of agreeing to not investigate or prosecute cases involving members of the criminal enterprise if he was elected prosecutor in 2008 in exchange for money and other financial benefits.
Also, Lisa Antonini, the former county Democratic chairwoman and county treasurer, is now a witness for the prosecution. During the 2008 prosecutor campaign, Antonini told me Yavorcik was her best friend.
If she takes the stand in this case, chances are the two will be former best friends — if that hasn’t already happened.
If those tapes prove the allegations against Yavorcik are true, look for prosecutors to lean on him to cooperate.