INFANTE TRIAL | Testimonty focuses on Niles retire-rehires


3:15 p.m.

WARREN

Former Niles auditor Charles Nader testified on several subjects in the Ralph Infante corruption trial, including the retire/rehire practices in Niles several years ago and a contract awarded in 2012 for utility billing. After his testimony, the trial ended early for the day.

Nader pleaded guilty earlier to several charges in the Infante case in exchange for his testimony in Infante's trial.

Nader said he asked Infante for documentation in 2013 after learning that Infante's brother, Joe Infante, had been approved for a stepped up rate of overtime pay despite there being no letter in the auditor's office to verify it.

Nader said Infante provided Nader with a copy of the letter, and Nader didn't do anything about the issue, even though he didn't agree with the pay Joe Infante was getting.

"I didn't think one person should be paid at a rate of pay different from other people," Nader said.

It's unclear what part of the retire/rehire process prosecutors think was illegal.

Under cross examination from Infante's attorney, John Juhasz, Nader said the state auditor's office never issued a "finding" in an audit report to indicate that giving Joe Infante the higher pay rate was improper.

Former Niles Law Director J. Terrence Dull also testified this morning about a utility billing contract approved in 2012. Prosecutors have said the contract was unfair to another bidder and benefitted a friend of Infante's.

Carmen Vivolo, former Niles parks and recreation director, testified about the way his retire/rehire worked when he did it at the beginning of 2013.

Vivolo said his salary dropped by $20,000 per year when he was rehired, but he was told that was to continue to provide him with health care. He said the process involved speaking very briefly to Infante and being told he would be allowed to be rehired as long as he accepted the pay cut.

"I was very comfortable with it," Vivolo said.

1:30 p.m.

WARREN

Testimony in the Ralph Infante public corruption trial today has focused heavily on issues related to several several Niles city employees retiring and being rehired to their old jobs several years ago.

One such employee testified Wednesday, and Carmen Vivolo, former Niles parks and recreation director, testified today as to how the process worked when he did it at the beginning of 2013.

Vivolo said his salary dropped by $20,000 per year when he was rehired, but he was told that was to continue to provide him with health care. He said the process involved speaking very briefly to Infante and being told he would be allowed to be rehired as long as he accepted the pay cut.

"I was very comfortable with it," Vivolo said.

It's unclear what part of the retire/rehire process prosecutors think was done improperly because earlier filings in the case have not made it clear.

9 a.m.

WARREN — Testimony resumed this morning in the Ralph Infante public-corruption trial in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court after a full, first day of testimony Wednesday.

Infante, 63, who was Niles mayor from 1992 to the end of 2015, is charged with 41 criminal counts alleging engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, numerous counts of bribery and tampering with records and fewer counts of gambling, falsification and theft.

The first witness was April Strickland, forensic audit manager for the Auditor of State's office in Youngstown, who investigates fraud.

The most significant witness Wednesday was FBI agent Deane Hassman, whose recorded interviews from 2009 and 2015 with Infante were about $8,000 tickets to the 2007 national college football championship game Infante said he received at no cost from Anthony Cafaro Sr. and his son, Anthony Cafaro Jr.

But Hassman also testified his interest in the activities of Anthony Cafaro Sr. were also a reason for questioning Infante. Hassman said he had opened a file on Cafaro Sr. in 2006.

There were also other witnesses, including Infante's brother, Joe Infante, a city worker who retired and was rehired the next day in early 2013 while his brother was Niles mayor.

He testified he "had a discussion" with former Niles auditor Charles Nader about the pay rate he would get for overtime when he was rehired because he felt it was not fair. Later, the city agreed to give him the higher rate, he said.

Prosecutors have indicated Ralph Infante engaged in illegal activity for being involved in the rehiring of his brother, including signing documents related to it.

Don't Miss a Story

Sign up for our newsletter to receive daily news directly in your inbox.