Attorney seeks discharge of Yavorcik's Oakhill conviction
Published: Sat, September 24, 2016 @ 12:02 a.m.
By David Skolnick
The attorney for Martin Yavorcik said his client’s eight-felony conviction in connection with the Oakhill Renaissance Place corruption scandal should be dismissed because of errors made by the trial judge.
In a 48-page motion filed with the 8th District Court of Appeals, David L. Doughten, Yavorcik’s Cleveland-based attorney, wrote that seven errors were made: five that should either reverse the convictions or dismiss the convictions, and two others that would call for a new trial.
The arguments in the motion filed by Yavorcik’s attorney with the court by Friday’s deadline are familiar. All were raised by Yavorcik, an attorney – now suspended by the Ohio Supreme Court – from Boardman, who defended himself during the trial. Each was rejected during the trial by Judge Janet R. Burnside of Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court, who oversaw the case.
Among them are Yavorcik’s contention that the state failed to provide enough evidence to prove he was part of the Oakhill conspiracy, that he wasn’t a candidate or public official when he accepted money a jury considered a bribe, that Cuyahoga County wasn’t the proper venue for the trial, that omitting information about that money on campaign-finance reports doesn’t constitute tampering with evidence, and that prosecutors used protected incriminating statements made by Yavorcik to get an indictment from a grand jury.
A jury on March 25 found Yavorcik, a failed 2008 independent candidate for Mahoning County prosecutor, guilty 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.
The jury sided with prosecutors who said Yavorcik took about $140,000 in bribes in 2008 to kill an investigation – if he were elected prosecutor – into the illegal obstruction of Mahoning County’s purchase of the Oakhill Renaissance Place, a former hospital on Youngstown’s South Side.
The purchase wasn’t stopped, and Yavorcik lost the election by 38 percentage points.
Judge Burnside sentenced Yavorcik on April 22 to five years of probation, including one year of house arrest.
He faced up to 10 years’ in prison with prosecutors seeking a sentence of five to nine years.
The Ohio Supreme Court indefinitely suspended Yavorcik’s law license May 2.
He filed an appeal May 11 – the same day Judge Burnside found him to be indigent – to overturn the conviction. A day later, prosecutors filed an appeal to the sentence contending it was “contrary to law.”
The court of appeals gave prosecutors until Oct. 17 to file their brief in this case.
Yavorcik got rid of his public defender about a month after Judge Burnside granted the request and retained Doughten. Doughten sought and received three extensions from the court to file his brief because of other cases he’s handling.