Bozanich, Sammarone make first court appearances
By David Skolnick
and Justin Wier
The first meeting between a prosecutor and attorneys for ex-Youngstown Mayor Charles Sammarone and former city Finance Director David Bozanich lasted more than two hours.
The two had their first pretrial meeting, along with downtown developer Dominic Marchionda, on Friday in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court. Marchionda was first indicted nearly a year ago and has had previous pretrial meetings.
Friday’s meeting took place between Dan Kasaris, a special assistant county prosecutor and a senior assistant attorney general, and attorneys for the three. John Shultz is representing Sammarone while Ralph Cascarilla is the attorney for Bozanich. John F. McCaffrey is Marchionda’s lawyer.
Much of the closed-door discussion occurred without the defendants present. They sat in another room, also with the door closed.
On Aug. 30, a grand jury handed up an explosive 101-count indictment against the trio that superseded an Oct. 2, 2017, indictment against Marchionda and his companies for purported corrupt activity. It added bribery charges against Youngstown’s former mayor and finance director.
Friday’s hearing was the first court appearance for Bozanich and Sammarone, who, along with Marchionda, waived their right to an arraignment and entered written not-guilty pleas earlier this month.
All three waived their right to a speedy trial.
Prosecutors and attorneys declined to comment Friday on discussions in the closed-door meeting except for Cascarilla, who said it was done only for “scheduling” issues.
The next pretrial meeting will take place Feb. 13. The indictment accuses Marchionda of Poland of misspending at least $600,000 in city funds on personal items in addition to misusing money obtained from city, state and federal governments for The Flats at Wick student-housing complex and the Erie Terminal Place and Wick Towers projects.
Bozanich of Youngstown, the former longtime city finance director until December 2017, is accused of assisting individuals, including Marchionda, who sought public funding for economic-development projects in exchange for money, golf fees, meals and trips.
Sammarone of Youngstown is accused of taking $10,000 in cash payments from a vendor in return for steering projects to that person’s company. Sammarone was mayor from August 2011 to December 2013.