Infante’s home belonged to him when raided, filing says
By Ed Runyan
The special prosecutor in the Ralph Infante public-corruption case says Infante’s home on North Rhodes Avenue in Niles belonged to him when investigators raided it Feb. 1, 2016, and he still lives there.
Agents seized numerous documents in the raid, such as betting information and documents related to the bar Ralph and his wife, Judy, operate, ITAM No. 39 on State Street in McKinley Heights.
Atty. Dan Kasaris of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office said in a recent filing that property records negate an argument Infante and his attorney made last month – that evidence obtained the day of the search should not be admissible at Infante’s Dec. 11 trial because the home was not Infante’s at the time.
The filing states that the home “was and is the residence of the defendant Ralph Infante.”
He also says Infante’s contention that the property was owned by someone else Feb. 1, 2016, is false.
Kasaris cited Trumbull County Auditor’s Office property records showing that the former Niles mayor sold the home to John and Michelle Sudzina July 28, 2016. Michelle Sudzina is the daughter of Ralph Infante’s wife, Judy, the filing says.
Ralph and Judy Infante acquired the home for $290,000 in 2006, property records show.
Infante’s attorney, John Juhasz, earlier asked for suppression of evidence from the Feb. 1, 2016, search, arguing the Sudinas owned the Rhodes property Feb. 1, 2016, and the search may have violated the privacy rights of people other than Ralph Infante living there at the time.
Among the 41 charges Ralph Infante, 61, faces are taking bribes, receiving inappropriate gifts, engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, tampering with records and illegal gambling.
Judy Infante and former Niles auditor Charles Nader are also charged with various offenses in connection to the case.
The Kasaris filing also responds to arguments made by Juhasz that the affidavit filed in the case in support of a search warrant contained improper hearsay evidence. Hearsay is information received from another person instead of first-hand.
The filing cited parts of the affidavit indicating that a detective with the sheriff’s office who wrote the affidavit received much of the information about the crimes being investigated from an investigator from the Ohio Auditor’s Office.
“There is nothing wrong with one law-enforcement agent relying on another law-enforcement agent for information to place in a search warrant affidavit,” Kasaris said. The rules courts follow “recognize that a search warrant affidavit may be made up of hearsay.”
The auditor’s office investigator, Chris Rudy, “has a long history of service to the State of Ohio” as a law enforcement officer,” Kasaris said.
Kasaris also filed a separate document in response to Infante’s request for charges against Infante to be dismissed on the grounds that some of the allegations are so old, evidence to prove his innocence is gone.
Kasaris said Infante and his attorney used a “shotgun approach” in its motion, asking that all charges be dismissed without specifying which ones involve an “undue delay.”
Kasaris pointed to more than 20 charges in Ralph Infante’s indictment that are no more than six years old, including bribery, engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, soliciting improper compensation, gambling and records tampering.