Prosecutor asks judge to allow advance testimony in Ralph Infante case

Staff report


About 30 people received subpoenas to testify the last time it appeared the Ralph Infante public-corruption case was soon to go to trial, but prosecutors want to be prepared in case two of them cannot be there.

Daniel Kasaris, assistant Ohio attorney general, who is special prosecutor in the case, recently asked Visiting Judge Patricia Cosgrove to allow him to call Denise Danielson and Ted Clay to the Trumbull County Courthouse to take a deposition of their testimony because they may not be available to testify at Infante’s trial, scheduled for April 23.

Danielson worked at ITAM No. 39 in McKinley Heights, the tavern operated by Infante and his wife, Judy.

Danielson has “material, relevant testimony” related to a charge of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, gambling, operating a gambling house and possession of criminal tools and will not be available to testify at the trial, Kasaris said in a filing.

Clay has information relating to charges of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, bribery and other crimes and may not be available during the trial, Kasaris said in a filing.

The depositions would not be open to the public, Kasaris said in his filing.

So far, Judge Cosgrove, has not replied to the requests.

Ralph Infante, 63, is accused of 41 criminal charges, including 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.

Judy Infante, 68, is facing seven counts of tampering with records. She’s accused of failing to report – and trying to conceal – “income from gambling and other sources.”

Much of the list of people likely to testify at the trial reads like a “Who’s Who” of Niles and Mahoning Valley public figures.

Among them are Neil Buccino, Ralph Infante’s former service director; Maurice Guarino, former safety director; Joseph Infante, Ralph Infante’s brother; Giovanni Merlo, current Niles auditor; John Moliterno, executive director of the Western Reserve Port Authority; Robert Marino, former Niles council president; Steve Papalas, former Niles councilman; and Mark Hess, former Niles engineering, grants and development coordinator.

Former Niles Auditor Charles Nader recently pleaded guilty to reduced charges in the case and agreed to testify at Ralph Infante’s trial.

A telephone conference was last Friday on the case, but Judge Cosgrove has not provided any information on the hearing. The judge has also issued a gag order in the case preventing attorneys in the case from discussing it with the news media or public.

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