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Marchionda’s indictment puts Youngstown in bind

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Youngstown Mayor john A. McNally must know the public will be skeptical of any review by his administration of downtown development projects.

The reason: Finance Director David Bozanich, a member of the board of control, is implicated in the state criminal investigation of developer Dominic Marchionda.

Bozanich’s ties to Marchionda are laid out in the 105-count indictment unsealed last week by a Mahoning County grand jury.

Bozanich has not been charged, but Ohio Auditor David Yost, whose investigators spent two years delving into the downtown projects, made it clear Marchionda’s indictment is just the beginning.

The developer from Poland, who owns NYO Property Group, will be arraigned Tuesday in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court. The case is being prosecuted by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office.

Marchionda’s lawyer is Clevelander John F. McCaffrey, who has represented other Mahoning Valley residents, including prominent area businessman Anthony M. Cafaro Sr.

McNally, sporting a conviction for his role in the Oakhill Renaissance Place criminal conspiracy, told The Vindicator he does not intend to fire or discipline his finance director.

We aren’t surprised given the mayor’s ho-hum attitude toward government corruption. After his conviction on four misdemeanor charges, McNally not only ignored our calls for him to resign, but sought re-election this year.

Fortunately, voters in the May Democratic primary gave him the boot by nominating his main opponent, former Councilman Jamael Tito Brown.

McNally will be leaving office at the end of the year. His criminal conviction stems from his tenure as a Mahoning County commissioner.

Getting a pass

Cafaro masterminded the Oakhill conspiracy to prevent county government from buying the former Southside Medical Center. However, Ohio Attorney General DeWine, who oversaw the prosecution of the Oakhill case, chose not to go after the mastermind.

McNally, in his role as commissioner, former county Auditor Michael Sciortino and Youngstown Atty. Martin Yavorcik were ultimately convicted on various criminal charges.

Given the mayor’s record and Bozanich’s continued presence in City Hall – he is the keeper of official government documents – we believe the administration should not be involved in any review of the downtown projects.

Marchionda used city, state and federal dollars to help finance the Flats at Wick student housing complex and the rehabilitation of Erie Terminal Place and Wick Towers into downtown apartments.

One of the several companies he owns is developing the DoubleTree by Hilton hotel at the downtown Stambaugh building.

“We’ll be reviewing each of the [hotel] transactions to make sure each disbursement was spent properly,” McNally told The Vindicator. “We’re hopeful the hotel project will continue. We’ll be reviewing each of the agreements on the projects.”

While a review of the hotel project and all the other Marchionda developments is necessary, we believe an independent, non-governmental entity should conduct it.

We, therefore, urge Ohio Auditor Yost, who is unwavering in his commitment to go after individuals in the public and private sectors who misappropriate public dollars, to identify a company that would conduct an objective, nonpolitical review of the projects.

Yes, there will be a cost involved. However, we are confident that Yost, who has earned the respect of honest Youngstown residents tired of public corruption, will help the city pay for the independent analysis.

Not only is it necessary to determine what the agreements between the city and Marchionda say, but there’s an overarching question that needs to be answered: What happens to the various downtown projects if Marchionda is convicted?

If Marchionda isn’t around to manage his various holdings, is there someone else to take his place?

The McNally administration has no credibility when it comes to reviewing the hotel project or any other development downtown.