By Bertram de Souza (Contact)
Published December 13, 2009
No one been more critical than this writer of U.S. District Court Judge Sara Lioi since she gave former Trumbull County Commissioner James Tsagaris a legal kiss on the cheek after he pleaded guilty to two counts of honest services mail fraud.
The federal criminal charges stem from Tsagaris’ receiving $36,551 from an unnamed local businessman who did business with Trumbull County while Tsagaris was commissioner.
Judge Lioi sentenced him in August to 12 months’ electronically monitored house arrest, a $4,000 fine and three years’ probation.
But the judge made amends last week by sending the ex commissioner to federal prison for nine months for violating the terms of his house arrest.
Indeed, she ingratiated herself with this writer and others who believe that corrupt government officials and those who have corrupted them have been treated too leniently by the courts.
After the details of Tsagaris’ house-arrest violations were made public, Lioi told him to report to prison as soon as possible. She disregarded U.S. Attorney Justin Roberts’ contention that it would be fair for Tsagaris to self-report on Jan. 1 “given the time of the year and the need to get his medical affairs in order.”
Lioi made it clear that the time of the year does not matter to her.
Good for the judge. Yes, she should have sent the ex commissioner to prison at the outset, but the nine months behind bars is appropriate given the violations of the terms of the house arrest.
Now, if only she would make public the name of the businessman who enriched Tsagaris. He’s the same individual who is said to have slipped money to former Mahoning County Common Pleas Judge Maureen Cronin.
The businessman does not deserve to spend Christmas in the luxury and comfort of his mansion.