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Witness in corruption case to plead guilty

Former MS Consultants official to appear in court Tuesday

YOUNGSTOWN — Raymond Briya — a key witness in the corruption cases against former Youngstown Mayor Charles Sammarone, ex-city Finance Director David Bozanich and developer Dominic Marchionda — is scheduled to plead guilty Tuesday to five felonies.

Briya, a former MS Consultants Inc. chief financial officer, is expected to make the plea to Judge Maureen Sweeney of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court, according to the court docket. Briya was charged in a bill of information Aug. 29 with two counts of attempted bribery as well as one count each of tampering with records, grand theft and obstructing justice related to the probe.

A bill of information occurs when a defendant waives a grand jury indictment and typically reaches a plea bargain with prosecutors.

Briya, who is cooperating with prosecutors, will be sentenced at a later date, likely after the cases against the defendants are resolved.

A 101-count indictment was unsealed Aug. 20, 2018, accusing Sammarone, Bozanich, Marchionda and 10 of the latter’s companies of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, bribery, aggravated theft and tampering with records. They’ve all pleaded not guilty.

Sammarone’s trial is to start March 16, 2020, while the other defendants are being tried together with that trial scheduled to start June 1, 2020.

The bill of information accuses Briya, 72, of providing benefits, including cash, to Sammarone, Bozanich and unidentified others over at least a 10-year period in exchange for work for MS Consultants without the company’s knowledge, and to have received benefits from Marchionda.

Briya is John Doe 6 in the indictment.

The bill of information’s attempted bribery charges accuse Briya of giving more than $100,000 in cash, meals, gifts and golf benefits to Bozanich over a decade, and of giving at least $9,000 in cash to Sammarone to “corrupt” them in their official capacities with the city.

The count of tampering with records alleges Briya provided a false invoice on or about Oct. 6, 2011, for Marchionda’s Erie Terminal Place project when only about $8,000 worth of work was actually done. This occurred to allow Marchionda to pay off part of a $170,000 debt he owed to MS for his Flats at Wick project with the developer giving Briya an undisclosed benefit once the debt was paid, according to the bill of information.

The grand theft charge accuses Briya of taking between $75,000 and $150,000 from MS over a 15-year period to “benefit himself by bribing public officials” including Sammarone and Bozanich.

The obstructing justice count alleges that on or about Oct. 27, 2017, Briya tried to hinder the investigation into Marcionda by lying to a grand jury about the false invoice he gave the developer.

Marchionda is accused of improperly spending at least $600,000 from city funds on personal items and of misusing an undetermined amount of money obtained from state and federal governments on the Flats at Wick, Erie Terminal and Wick Towers projects.

Bozanich and Sammarone are accused of accepting bribes while holding public office.

dskolnick@tribtoday.com