Meacham to release financial findings on Oakhill

Staff report


Mahoning County Auditor Ralph T. Meacham will conduct a news conference at 9 a.m. today in the county courthouse basement meeting room to discuss financial information pertaining to Oakhill Renaissance Place, which has been mired in a long history of political controversy and civil and criminal legal proceedings.

Meacham, who became auditor in March 2015, will release his findings concerning the county’s costs of acquiring, renovating and incurring debt for Oakhill.

He also will discuss the costs of operating the building, which is now about half-occupied, and the extent to which those costs are defrayed by rents paid to the county by Oakhill’s tenants.

Meacham, a certified public accountant, said he doesn’t expect to make any recommendations at the news conference, but he has said the county needs to plan for Oakhill’s future.

Oakhill, built in stages between 1910 and 1972, is the former Forum Health Southside Medical Center, 345 Oak Hill Ave.

The county bought the former hospital in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in 2006 for use as a county office complex and moved its Department of Job and Family Services there the following year.

Besides JFS, the Oakhill complex now houses the county coroner’s office, veterans service commission, board of elections, auto title and microfilm departments and recycling division.

Major tenants include the city health department and Head Start.

Long-pending charges linked to an alleged criminal conspiracy to impede JFS’ move to Oakhill finally were resolved this year.

Martin Yavorcik, an unsuccessful candidate for county prosecutor in 2008, got five years’ probation last month, but had his law license suspended indefinitely after a jury in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court convicted him of one count each of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, conspiracy and tampering with records, two counts of money laundering and three counts of bribery.

Plea deals were followed by one-year probation sentences for Mayor John A. McNally, a former county commissioner, and former county Auditor Michael V. Sciortino.

McNally pleaded guilty to one count each of attempted telecommunications fraud and attempted unlawful influence by a public official or employee and two counts of falsification.

Sciortino pleaded guilty to one count each of having an unlawful interest in a public contract, falsification and receiving or soliciting improper compensation and had his law license suspended “for an interim period” by the Ohio Supreme Court.

In 2007, the Cafaro Co., which was JFS’ former landlord on the city’s East Side, agreed to forgo an appeal of its unsuccessful civil lawsuit to rescind the county’s purchase of Oakhill in exchange for the county’s payment of $913,590 to settle that company’s breach-of-lease lawsuit.

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