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« Stirfry

Why is Gains taking a pass?

By Bertram de Souza (Contact)


Published January 2, 2011

Untitled document

It’s no secret — at least not to political insiders — that Youngstown city Prosecutor Jay Macejko wants to challenge Mahoning County Prosecutor Paul Gains in the 2012 Democratic primary. And, it’s also no secret that county Democratic Party Chairman David Betras wants to prevent what would certainly be a bloody political clash.

But Sunday’s front page story in The Vindicator about the nine capital cases that are on the docket this year had to have made Macejko smile and Betras squirm. Why? Because as the story revealed, Mahoning County’s top lawyer, Gains, will not be the lead in any of the high-profile cases. Dawn Cantalamessa, chief trial lawyer in the criminal division, will be in charge.

That will be Gains’ Archilles’ heel in 2012, because his seeming unwillingness to take on cases of such great importance to the community will be compared with Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins’ eagerness to match his legal skills against those of hot-shot defense lawyers.

Why wouldn’t Gains, who is in his third four-year term, not want to be in forefront of trying to put away the man accused of killing 80-year-old Angeline Fimognari, who was shot at point-blank range as she sat in her car in the a parking lot of St. Dominic Church? Fimognari attended daily mass at St. Dominic. Or, why wouldn’t he want to go after the accused killers of 79-year-old Thomas Repchic? Also a member of St. Dominic Church, Repchic is said to have been the victim of mistaken identity.

While all five capital cases involving nine defendants will garner a lot of media attention, the murders of Fimognari and Repchic have triggered an angry response from law-abiding citizens. They are demanding justice.

Youngstown city Prosecutor Macejko is certain to make Gains’ passing up these cases an issue in 2012 should he decide to make a bid for the Democratic primary. Talk about giving a prospective challenger an issue.


Comments

1johnyoung(241 comments)posted 3 years, 9 months ago

Being a county prosecutor is not only about trying cases. The county prosecutor must be a compotent manager or "quarterback" who can assemble a team of attorneys with the proper expertise to handle a myriad of legal issues which are the responsibility of the office, both criminal and civil. Mr. Gains evidently believes that Attorney Cantalamessa is the most competent on his staff to handle capital murder cases. Others, including Mr. Gains, likely have expertise in other areas. These are responsible decisions, and do not make him an inferior prosecutor, as Mr. DeSouza suggests.

In Trumbull County, evidently Mr. Watkins feels as though he has the particular expertise to most appropriately handle capital cases. Good for him!

As for Mr. Macejko's possible challenge in 2012 for the county prosecutor's position, he is severely outclassed in this regard, and he will definitely not want to be the pot who is calling the kettle black. If Mr. DeSouza and the rest of the Vindicator staff was paying attention, they would find many irregulatities within the Youngstown City Prosecutor's operation.

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2joe1616(52 comments)posted 3 years, 9 months ago

Are you trying to imply that Gains is a competent manager? Macejko is outclassed? Wow you are more clueless than I thought. Do you want a prosecutor that is tough on crime? Try this, become a defense lawyer. Then pick up a misdemeanor case in Youngstown and a felony in Common Pleas. Let me know which case is easier to get a plea bargain. I'll save you some time, and tell you that you can get a better deal on a felony case in Common Pleas than a misdemeanor in Youngstown. Go Macejko!

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3Stan(9923 comments)posted 3 years, 9 months ago

Plea bargaining is not the answer for the killers of The Valley . Gains may be burnt out on the job and have nothing more to offer .

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4Nom_De_Plume(54 comments)posted 3 years, 9 months ago

The answer to your query is simple, Bertram. Gains is a bum. The office is in shambles and its operation is a disgrace. Gains doesn't know what to do about it because he's not a real prosecutor. Rather, he is a politician.

I've practiced in both courts (municipal and common pleas) and there is no comparison to the manner in which the offices are administered. Macejko's office is professional, competent, and tough. It has contributed to make Youngstown safer even if the advances are small. Gains' office lacks leadership, professionalism, and basic competence. It contributes to the crime problem in the community by entering into terrible plea agreements that put dangerous people on the streets or simply lets them out for no justifiable reason - lest we forget Jamar Houser and Lexter Williams?

Macejko carried Gains through the Kolesar prosecution and made him look good during his time there on a number of other cases. He wanted to go after Mike Budd (federal prisoner) and Gains stepped in to stop it for political reasons. It's no coincidence that Gains' office started its decline at the same time Macejko left!

As for Betras, he simply needs to butt out and let the people decide. It's no surprise that a man who would support Marc Dann would also be in Gains' corner. If Betras or this newspaper cared one bit about the future of this community, they would both openly support Macejko and seek to oust Gains from office. The people of Mahoning County will be hiring a lawyer in 2012 to represent them...who would you hire?

Go Jay! Macejko 2012!

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5johnyoung(241 comments)posted 3 years, 9 months ago

Well Mr. (or Ms.) Joe1616... Since you asked the question, I do know something about the operations of both courts. If and when Mr. Macejko decides to run, there will be plenty of fodder for the voters to ponder. Yes, Mr. Macejko can be hard-nosed, unless you're on of the select defense attorneys that he caters to. Evidently you are not. Try checking the docket to see whose DUI cases get reduced to reckless op. Don't worry, there are folks who have been keeping track, and overall, he has nothing to brag about.

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6candystriper(575 comments)posted 3 years, 9 months ago

Prosecutor is the most difficult job in public service...it is a wonder that all these cases are heard...what with the number of paid days off a year civil servants get...do you even have to come to work?

lol

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7Traveler(606 comments)posted 3 years, 9 months ago

I dont know enough about the city prosecutor to vote for him or not. But i can say that you would be hard pressed to find someone more incompetent then Gains.

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8Spectator(6 comments)posted 3 years, 9 months ago

You know, it's the strangest thing. The people talking about Macejko running against Gains now sound just like the people who were cheering for Marty Yavorcik two years ago. As a fan of Jay Macejko's, I hope he has more sense than to be used by that crew.

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9LongArmODLaw(22 comments)posted 3 years, 8 months ago

There is no question that the current Mahoning County Prosecutor's Office is in shambles. I too am familiar with the municipal and county offices and can say that Youngstown is truly lucky to have Jay Macejko at the helm and we who live in the outlying areas can only pray that we will be lucky enough to have him as a candidate on the ballot for Mahoning County Prosecutor.

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