Published June 5, 2011
The U.S. Justice Department already knows the identity of the businessman who paid off former Mahoning County Treasurer Lisa Antonini to do his bidding. Connecting the dots of information released by the feds in Antonini’s criminal case, the line goes to Anthony M. Cafaro Sr., retired president of the Cafaro Co.
Given that, why would the feds be willing to recommend leniency for Antonini, who resigned last month and pleaded guilty Friday to an information charging her with one count of honest-services mail fraud? Because they believe she has information about other individuals involved in government corruption in the Mahoning Valley. And they wouldn’t be wrong.
Remember, Antonini was chairwoman of the county Democratic Party and, as such, would have had access to the movers and shakers and to those elected officials willing to be influenced by them. That’s how it has worked for generations in this area. Politics has always been a game for high rollers.
The fact that Antonini’s plea deal requires her full cooperation, including names and places, means federal prosecutors and the FBI have a pretty good idea of the information she can provide them in their quest to end government corruption in the region.
And that should keep more than a few people awake at night.