UPDATE|Vettori to resign court, statement says


story tease

By Justin Wier

jwier@vindy.com

UPDATE: 11:33 AM

SEBRING

The caseload of Mahoning County Court No. 3 will be taken up by Judges Joseph Houser, Scott Hunter and David D'Apolito.

A voicemail left for Judge Hunter, the county's presiding judge, "did indicate that [Judge Diane Vettori-Caraballo]. anticipated resigning as a judge of Mahoning County Area Courts," a statement issued this morning by Colleen Ingram, court administrator, said.

Judge Vettori of Mahoning County Area Court in Sebring is off the bench on which she has served since 2002 until a charge of stealing at least $96,200 from a former client is resolved.

The Ohio Supreme Court issued an order Tuesday sidelining the judge for the duration of the case.

Vettori, 49, of Canfield, who is charged as Judge Diane Vettori-Caraballo, faces one count of mail fraud, one count of structuring cash deposits and one count of making false statements to law enforcement.

The Supreme Court’s order cited a rule that disqualifies judges who face charges punishable as felonies under state or federal law from continuing to act as judges until the case is concluded.

She’s accused by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio of stealing between $96,200 and $328,000 in cash that was in the home of Dolores Falgiani, one of her clients, who died in March 2016, according to the information.

An information lays out charges against a defendant. A defendant can waive his or her right to an indictment and plead guilty to that information, or require prosecutors to present the charges to a grand jury to obtain an indictment.

According to the information, she deposited $96,200 of the cash through 22 deposits with five different banks over four weeks to avoid regulations that require banks to report deposits of more than $10,000 to the Internal Revenue Service, the information says.

It also accuses Judge Vettori of lying to agents from the FBI who confronted her about the matter.

The FBI began investigating the case in December 2016 and met with the judge in March 2017.

The information claims FBI agents met with her in March when she told them she hadn’t “received a nickel” from the Falgiani estate. Agents also allege she claimed the bank deposits came from her father’s estate who died shortly before that interview. He died more than a year earlier, the information says.

She also told agents the money came from her husband’s retirement account. Her husband, Ismael Caraballo, is a retired Youngstown police officer.

Judge Dan A. Polster of U.S. District Court in Cleveland has been assigned to the case.


YOUNGSTOWN

Judge Diane Vettori of Mahoning County Area Court in Sebring is off the bench on which she has served since 2002 until a charge of stealing at least $96,200 from a former client is resolved.

The Ohio Supreme Court issued an order Tuesday sidelining the judge for the duration of the case.

Vettori, 49, of Canfield, who is charged as Judge Diane Vettori-Caraballo, faces one count of mail fraud, one count of structuring cash deposits and one count of making false statements to law enforcement.

The Supreme Court’s order cited a rule that disqualifies judges who face charges punishable as felonies under state or federal law from continuing to act as judges until the case is concluded. She’s accused by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio of stealing between $96,200 and $328,000 in cash that was in the home of Dolores Falgiani, one of her clients, who died in March 2016, according to the information.

An information lays out charges against a defendant. A defendant can waive his or her right to an indictment and plead guilty to that information, or require prosecutors to present the charges to a grand jury to obtain an indictment.

According to the information, she deposited $96,200 of the cash through 22 deposits with five different banks over four weeks to avoid regulations that require banks to report deposits of more than $10,000 to the Internal Revenue Service, the information says.

It also accuses Judge Vettori of lying to agents from the FBI who confronted her about the matter.

The FBI began investigating the case in December 2016 and met with the judge in March 2017.

The information claims FBI agents met with her in March when she told them she hadn’t “received a nickel” from the Falgiani estate. Agents also allege she claimed the bank deposits came from her father’s estate who died shortly before that interview. He died more than a year earlier, the information says.

She also told agents the money came from her husband’s retirement account. Her husband, Ismael Caraballo, is a retired Youngstown police officer.

Judge Dan A. Polster of U.S. District Court in Cleveland has been assigned to the case.

The Vindicator was unable to contact Judge Vettori for comment Tuesday.

The charges against Judge Vettori accuse her of stealing money from a client for whom she prepared a will in her private practice.

Judge Vettori drafted a will for Falgiani in 2015, which made bequests to 16 friends and family members and donated the remainder of her estate to Animal Charity Humane Society in Boardman and Angels for Animals in Beaver Township.

In March 2016, Falgiani was found dead in her home, and Boardman police found U.S. Savings Bonds on her kitchen table. She had a handwritten note in her checkbook describing $512,070 in cash and bonds both in her home and at the bank.

Investigators claim Falgiani had between $92,800 and $328,000 in cash in her home at the time of her death.

Investigators say Judge Vettori used the money to pay personal and business credit-card debt.

Falgiani obtained some of the money from her brother, a previous client of Judge Vettori’s, who died in 2015.

Shortly after his death, Judge Vettori filed an application for authority to administer Falgiani’s brother’s estate asking for Dolores Falgiani’s appointment as the administrator of his estate.

The form prepared by Judge Vettori claims Falgiani’s brother died without a will, though the information states Judge Vettori prepared a will for him.

Dolores Falgiani and Judge Vettori closed out a safe-deposit box opened by Falgiani’s brother, which he never again accessed before his death, the information says.

In May 2016, the judge sent the attorney serving as Falgiani’s fiduciary a text saying she found money in Falgiani’s residence and later deposited $20,000 into the estate bank account, the information says.

“Had to give finger prints and license and everything. !!! Lol I’m a drug dealer in the system now,” she said in one of the texts, which is quoted in the information.

In July 2016, the Falgiani family sent a letter to the probate court, which said they were disappointed with the handling of her estate, the information says.

The family alleged they asked Judge Vettori about a diamond ring and she said an ambulance driver may have taken it.

A hearing settled the dispute between Judge Vettori and Falgiani’s family, but the information accuses her of failing to disclose the money she stole on multiple occasions.

The mail-fraud charge resulted from allegations that multiple documents sent throug h the mail, including many filed in Mahoning County Probate Court, failed to disclose the stolen money.

Last week, Judge Vettori recused herself from the trial of James Bates, a former Sebring water-system operator who faces criminal charges for failing to notify water customers about excessive lead levels, citing a conflict of interest.

On Tuesday, the Ohio Supreme Court appointed visiting Judge Patricia A. Cosgrove to preside over the case.

Atty. John B. Juhasz, who represents Bates, said Judge Vettori recused herself from the Bates trial because she retained him to represent her in her federal case.

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