Prosecutor objects to Sammarone’s request for a separate trial
Former mayor seeks own trial
By David Skolnick
The prosecutor in the Youngstown corruption case objects to a request by former city Mayor Charles Sammarone to have a trial separate from his co-defendants.
Sammarone is seeking a separate trial from ex-Youngstown Finance Director David Bozanich, downtown developer Dominic Marchionda and 10 companies owned by the latter. They were indicted Aug. 20, 2018, on 101 counts, including engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, bribery, aggravated theft and tampering with records.
They’ve all pleaded not guilty.
The trial is scheduled to start June 1, 2020.
Judge Maureen Sweeney of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court, who is overseeing the trial, will decide if Sammarone is tried separately.
Dan Kasaris, a special assistant Mahoning County prosecutor and a senior assistant state attorney general, filed the objection Thursday, writing: “In this matter, several witnesses who may be called to testify against Charles Sammarone would also be called to testify against David Bozanich and/or Dominic Marchionda. Sammarone and Bozanich’s crimes are of the same character and involve the same person who was providing [these] two men benefits for the same reason – to secure work for his company.”
In a February motion for a separate trial, John Shultz, Sammarone’s attorney, wrote the indictment “never alleged that defendant Sammarone participated in the same act or transaction or the same series of acts or transactions with the named co-defendants which constitute an offense or offenses.”
Shultz added: “He was the only elected public official named in this indictment and he is vulnerable to unjustly being accused and convicted because of the purported actions of other government employees and/or involving public funds. Under these circumstances, defendant Sammarone asserts that a joint trial would create a prejudicial atmosphere and prevent a jury from making a reliable judgment about his [guilt] or innocence.”
In his response, Kasaris wrote that “offenses may be joined if they are of the same or similar character, are based on the same act or transaction, or are based on two or more acts or transactions connected together or part of a common scheme or course of criminal conduct.”
Kasaris wrote that an employee of a local company is alleged to have bribed Sammarone and Bozanich at separate times “on a golf course of a local country club.” He added: “Furthermore, the bribery conduct ended in both instances for the same reason, the federal government was investigating David Bozanich.”
The Vindicator reported in October 2018 that the person in question is Raymond Briya, a former MS Consultants Inc. vice president. He is a key figure in the probe as he is alleged to have provided benefits from MS – without the company’s knowledge – to Sammarone and Bozanich to obtain work for MS and is alleged to have received benefits from Marchionda. Briya is believed to be cooperating with prosecutors against the defendants.
“The efforts of this person in bribing two city officials is a common plan, a common scheme with a common motive – to secure work for his company,” Kasaris wrote.