Special prosecutor readily agrees to separating trials for former Niles mayor and auditor
By Ed Runyan
A request from the attorney for former Niles Mayor Ralph Infante that Infante’s trial be separated from co-defendant Charles Nader filled 18 pages in a motion he filed last month.
The response to that motion, filed in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court this week by special prosecutor Daniel Kasaris, senior assistant Ohio attorney general, took three sentences.
We don’t care if the trials are separated, Kasaris responded.
“Had the defendant requested such via phone call, email or text message, the State of Ohio would have conceded to and concurred with the defendant’s request. But defense counsel didn’t do that,” Kasaris said in two of the three sentences.
Infante’s attorney, John Juhasz, asked visiting Judge Patricia Cosgrove for the public corruption trial of Infante to be separate from that of Nader, former Niles auditor.
Juhasz said the reason is because it appears Nader will make allegations that Infante insisted on rehiring Infante’s brother, Joe Infante, after Joe Infante retired.
Nader is alleged to have told Ralph Infante that Nader couldn’t do that, but the former mayor demanded, according to a court filing.
Prosecutors allege that Ralph Infante hiring his brother to a city job while he was mayor was illegal.
The problem with the two men going to trial together is that Juhasz might not get to cross-examine Nader at that trial because Nader might refuse to testify, Juhasz said.
Presumably the parties will discuss this issue when they have their next hearing, which will be a conference call at noon Oct. 13. The final pretrial hearing will be at 11 a.m. Nov. 15, and the trial is set to begin at 9 a.m. Dec. 11.
But the case also may need an evidence-suppression hearing because Juhasz filed a motion last month asking Judge Cosgrove for a hearing to argue that evidence obtained by investigators Feb. 1, 2016, while investigators were serving a search warrant at Infante’s former home on North Rhodes Avenue, should be suppressed.
Kasaris has not yet responded to that motion.
Ralph Infante, 61, is charged in a 41-count indictment with taking bribes, receiving inappropriate gifts, engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, tampering with records and illegal gambling. The offenses are alleged to have occurred during Infante’s 24 years as Niles mayor ending in 2015.
His wife, Judy Infante, 68, and Nader, 64, also are charged in the indictment.