By Bertram de Souza (Contact)
Published December 5, 2009
James G. Tsagaris, the corrupt former commissioner of Trumbull County, can be forgiven for thinking that the federal court-ordered electronic monitoring of his probation was nothing more than a legal formality. After all, Tsagaris received a tap on the wrist from U.S. District Court Judge Sara Lioi after he pleaded guilty to using his public position for personal gain.
Judge Lioi, who said there was a quid pro quo for the $36,551 “loan” the commissioner received in 2004 from a local businessman, placed Tsagaris under house arrest and three years’ probation and fined him $4,000.
Not long after the man who tugged at the judge’s heartstrings by claiming health problems was sent home, there were sightings of Tsagaris at places he wasn’t permitted to be in, such as the McDonald’s Restaurant in Warren.
This writer received several calls regarding Tsagaris’ regularly having coffee with a group of friends. Under the terms of his probation, he is only permitted to leave his house to go to the doctor’s office, to church and to work.
But after he spit the hook on a prison sentence, the ex commissioner who never repaid the $36,551 and wasn’t required to by the local businessman, obviously believed that the feds would not be offended by his socializing.
But they were, and at 10 a.m. Thursday, Tsagaris will be in federal court in Akron before Judge Lioi for a probation-violation hearing.
This will be a test of the commitment of federal prosecutors and the federal judiciary to end government corruption in the Mahoning Valley.