UPDATE: INFANTE TRIAL | Cafaros among names mentioned in Infante trial


WARREN — Special prosecutor Dan Kasaris gave the names of the people associated with 37 criminal charges against former Niles Mayor Ralph Infante today during opening statements in Infante's public-corruption trial.

He gave names like Anthony Cafaro, Tom Harwood, Scott Shaffer and Terry Clay – people who Kasaris says gave something to Infante or received something from Infante during Infante's 24 years in office.

Kasaris said the Cafaro matter involves either Anthony Cafaro Sr., the former president of the Cafaro Co., or Anthony Cafaro Jr., a current company co-president, giving Infante free tickets to the 2007 NCAA football National Championship football game.

Infante is accused of not declaring the gifts as required by ethics laws.

John Juhasz, meanwhile, Infante's attorney, said the key to the testimony over the coming week will be whether witnesses are believable.

"See if things fit together and see if you can rely on the information," Juhasz told jurors in his opening statement.

Kasaris said prosecutors will call 30 to 35 witnesses, most of them city employees or city officials, starting at 9 a.m. Wednesday.

1:29 p.m.

WARREN — A jury of seven women and five men and four alternates has been selected to serve on the jury in the Ralph Infante public corruption trial, and opening statements in the trial will begin at 2:20 p.m.

Before Judge Patricia Cosgrove dismissed the jurors for lunch, she implored them not to discuss the case or obtain any information about it from outside sources.

"It would be so unfair to decide the case based on what someone has told you," Judge Cosgrove said.

Earlier in the jury selection process, prosecutors listed about 70 people they may call as witnesses in the case. Among them is Judy Infante, Ralph's infante's wife, who pleaded guilty to two charges last week in the case and will be sentenced later.

Ralph Infante, 63, former longtime Niles mayor, faces 37 criminal charges and could get about 90 years in prison if he is convicted on all counts.

His charges are 16 counts of tampering with records, eight of bribery, one of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, two of theft in office, one of having an unlawful interest in a public contract, one of possessing criminal tools, seven of soliciting improper compensation and one of falsification.

11:02 a.m.

WARREN — Jury selection has resumed in the Ralph Infante public corruption trial this morning in a courtroom in the Trumbull County Courthouse that holds about 40 of the 70 potential jurors left in the pool.

Visiting Judge Patricia Cosgrove left the other 30 in the hallway and is asking the group in the courtroom whether they know any of the roughly 70 people who prosecutors say they may call to testify.

Among those people prosecutors say they may call is Judy Infante, Ralph's infante's wife, who pleaded guilty to two charges last week in the case and will be sentenced later.

Atty. John Juhasz, Infante's attorney, listed about 20 people who might testify, and fewer people knew the people on that list.

The judge is also asking each of the 40 to talk about themselves a little bit, including their family, work and hobbies.

None of the attorneys have yet asked any of the potential jurors any questions. A jury of 12 jurors and six alternates will be seated, Judge Cosgrove said.

Infante, 63, former longtime Niles mayor, faces 37 criminal charges and could get about 90 years in prison if he is convicted on all counts.

His charges are 16 counts of tampering with records, eight of bribery, one of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, two of theft in office, one of having an unlawful interest in a public contract, one of possessing criminal tools, seven of soliciting improper compensation and one of falsification.

8:59 a.m.

WARREN — As jury selection continues today in the Ralph Infante public corruption trial, logistical challenges related to having a visiting judge continue.

On Monday, visiting judge Patricia Cosgrove used the largest courtroom in Ohio used by Judge Andrew Logan of Trumbull County Common Pleas Court to hold about 80 potential jurors during the initial phase of jury selection.

But Judge Cosgrove chose to conduct individual questioning of jurors in a private area away from the public, raising questions about public access.

Today, Judge Cosgrove is moving to the smallest courtroom in the Trumbull County Courthouse. It will hold about 40 spectators and jurors. Typically, the type of jury selection planned for today involves all of the potential jurors in one courtroom as 12 potential jurors sit in the jury box and answer questions from the attorneys.

Doing that today will be a challenge with about 70 potential jurors apparently needing to crowd into the courtroom, plus news reporters and the public.

Judge Cosgrove initially estimated that jury selection would be finished by Monday, but the remainder of jury selection could take a couple more hours this morning before opening statements can be given.

Infante, 63, former longtime Niles mayor, faces 37 criminal charges and could get about 90 years in prison if he is convicted on all counts.

His charges are 16 counts of tampering with records, eight of bribery, one of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, two of theft in office, one of having an unlawful interest in a public contract, one of possessing criminal tools, seven of soliciting improper compensation and one of falsification.

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