By Bruce Walton
When Jay Macejko is sworn in as the new village solicitor Tuesday, it will mark a return to public service for the lawyer who was fired as Youngstown prosecutor in 2012 after sending disparaging messages about a Muslim prosecutor on his staff.
Village Mayor Tim Sicafuse recommended Macejko at village council’s meeting Dec. 20, and council members approved his appointment.
He replaces Anthony D’Apolito, who was sworn in last week as a judge in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court. The solicitor’s position is part time with an annual salary of $10,500.
Macejko, who owns his own law firm, Suhar & Macejko LLC in Youngstown, approached the council for the job in early December.
The mayor said he wanted information about Macejko and his community reputation. He said he spoke with D’Apolito and village police Chief Russell Beatty and other people who knew Macejko.
Bassil Ally, a former assistant city prosecutor under Macejko, filed a discrimination lawsuit in May 2009 against Youngstown, contending he was harassed by co-workers because of his faith and Middle Eastern descent.
Macejko, then city prosecutor, fired Ally on Jan. 11, 2008, after Ally went to a mosque service he regularly attended on a Friday afternoon instead of an office meeting Macejko had called for that time.
Macejko maintained his telling Ally he was fired stemmed from Ally’s insubordination, not from religious discrimination.
According to Vindicator files, Macejko would later acknowledge making disparaging remarks about Ally in text messages to another assistant city prosecutor.
Ally and the city agreed to a six-figure settlement in 2011. Then-Mayor Charles Sammarone fired Macejko in April 2012 after an in-house investigation by city officials.
Ally resigned as a senior city prosecutor in 2013 to take a job in Texas. He received a severance package from the city.
Macejko declined an interview with The Vindicator, saying his “interview days are over.”
Sicafuse said neither he nor anyone he spoke to knew the details of Macejko’s past.
The mayor said he vaguely recalled the incident in 2012, but didn’t read too much into it and saw it more as a “personality conflict.”
“At the time, I remember seeing the stuff in the paper and everything else, but I didn’t go back and research all that happened before I considered to recommend him for solicitor,” he said.
Sicafuse said he chose Macejko for his experience with the county and his strength within the community. Macejko also served as an assistant county prosecutor. He ran against county Prosecutor Paul J. Gains, his former boss, in the Democratic Party primary in 2012. He lost by 561 votes.
D’Apolito said he has known Macejko for about 25 years and said he is a great person, seconding his recommendation at the meeting. D’Apolito also knew Ally and thought as highly as he did Macejko.
Having learned more on the details of the lawsuit and Macejko’s termination by the city, Sicafuse said he didn’t condone such actions in the village.
“I didn’t know about it, and if I did, I would have researched it more, so I guess I’ll take some responsibility for that,” he said.
Sicafuse, however, still believes Macejko is capable of handling the solicitor’s job.
Macejko was the only applicant other than Mike Thompson, a local village attorney, but the mayor hadn’t received Thompson’s application until after the Dec. 20 meeting where Macejko received the appointment.
Though he doesn’t believe intolerance is acceptable, D’Apolito said he still doesn’t know enough about the incident and what Macejko did or didn’t do.
“I wish the best for him and the village and that they continue to work together” for the best interests of the village and its residents, he said.