Special prosecutor: Seriousness of offenses should prevent Infante from prison release
Former Niles mayor seeks to be set free on bond pending appeal
By Ed Runyan
Atty. Dan Kasaris of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office has objected to a request by Ralph Infante that the former Niles mayor be set free on bond pending appeal, but Kasaris did not address what Infante’s attorney says was an error on a jury form.
Infante’s trial attorney, John Juhasz, also filed notice with the 11th District Court of Appeals on Thursday indicating that Infante is appealing the jury’s verdict and the sentencing of visiting Judge Patricia Cosgrove of Summit County.
Kasaris, who served as special prosecutor in the case, said Infante, 62, should continue to serve his sentence because he was found guilty and sentenced to “the most serious felony any person can be convicted of when not charged with an offense of violence: engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity,” which is punishable by up to 11 years in prison.
“This offense is so serious that its ... sentence may be longer than that for a person who commits ... involuntary manslaughter, manslaughter, vehicular homicide and kidnapping,” Kasaris said in the filing.
Infante, of Niles, was sentenced to 10 years in prison May 11 for corruption during his 24 years as mayor and 21 other offenses. The sentence followed a two-week trial in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court.
The decision on whether to grant the request will be made by Judge Cosgrove.
Infante’s next most serious convictions were 13 counts of tampering with records, which each carry a penalty of up to three years in prison.
Kasaris said Infante’s convictions were supported by “the strong weight of evidence ... the nature of the crimes ... and the lengthy sentence he has been given.”
Juhasz said in his filing the biggest reason to allow Infante to return home pending an appeal is that Infante has “substantial grounds for appeal.” For instance, the engaging conviction “cannot stand because the verdict form submitted to the jury was deficient in that it failed to set forth the degree of felony.”
Kasaris did not address that issue, but Kasaris did allege that Infante lied to Judge Cosgrove when she asked about his receipt of 2007 NCAA football game tickets from Anthony Cafaro Sr. or Anthony Cafaro Jr. of the Cafaro Co.
When the judge asked Infante why he lied to investigators about where he got the tickets, Infante said “I couldn’t remember.” He also said investigators “caught me off guard” and he “had no legal counsel.”
Testimony indicated that investigators asked Infante about the tickets in 2009 and 2015. In the 2009 interview, Infante agreed that no one reimbursed the Cafaros, but in 2015, he told investigators his wife paid for them.
Kasaris could not be reached to comment on what comment Kasaris believed was a lie.
Atty. David Betras of Canfield said he does not believe Judge Cosgrove will grant Juhasz’s motion to set Infante free because the motion is a “perfunctory,” one, meaning token or routine.
“A jury convicted [Infante]. She sentenced him,” he said of Judge Cosgrove, and the 11th District Court of Appeals will be reviewing the case “rather quickly,” he said.
“I don’t see her letting [Infante] out of [prison] pending” appeals.