Infante pretrial hearing moved to Friday

WARREN — A pretrial hearing set for today in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court in the public-corruption case against former Niles Mayor Ralph Infante is now reset to a telephone conference Friday.

Judge Patricia Cosgrove, who is hearing the case on assignment from the Ohio Supreme Court, notified court officials today of the change. But she did not state the meeting time or give a reason.

Judge Cosgrove has not made telephone conferences open to the press or the public in the past.

Infante, 62, is facing 41 criminal charges accusing him of taking bribes, receiving inappropriate gifts, tampering with records, illegal gambling and engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity during his 24 years as Niles mayor.

This week's hearing is listed as a "final pretrial" hearing, with Infante's trial scheduled for 11 a.m. Feb. 26.

This will be the third telephone conference call so far, with only two previous hearings held in front of the public — Infante's arraignment and a Nov. 2 suppression hearing.

At that hearing, Infante's attorney, John Juhasz, argued that certain evidence obtained at the home on North Rhodes Avenue in Niles where he and his wife, Judy, live should be suppressed from trial.

Judy Infante, 68, and former Niles Auditor Charles Nader, 64, are also indicted in the case, but Nader's case will be tried separately from the Infante's. Nader has no scheduled hearing or trial dates.

Juhasz alleged that investigators went beyond the scope of their search warrant and that search warrant was flawed. Judge Cosgrove held a telephone conference later that month, but she has not ruled on the suppression issues.

The last filing in the case was a motion to continue the trial to Feb. 26 that was filed Nov. 15 and approved the same day. Thirty people were sent subpoenas requiring them to testify at the trial.

Lawyers with the Ohio Attorney General's Office are prosecuting the case.

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