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Witness pleads guilty in case of corruption

Ex-CFO must pay restitution

YOUNGSTOWN — A special prosecutor is recommending a man serve no prison time after he pleaded guilty Tuesday to five felonies in a public corruption case.

Raymond Briya agreed to pay $200,000 in restitution to MS Consulting, the engineering firm he worked for as chief financial officer when he took money from the firm to bribe public officials, according to court documents. The payment was to be made Tuesday.

Briya was charged in a bill of information Aug. 29 with two counts of attempted bribery, tampering with records, grand theft and obstructing justice.

In exchange for the plea deal, Briya is expected to testify as a key witness in the corruption case against former Youngstown Mayor Charles Sammarone, ex-city Finance Director David Bozanich and developer Dominic Marchionda.

Briya was released on his own recognizance after entering the guilty plea before Mahoning County Common Pleas Judge Maureen Sweeney. He is expected to be sentenced after testifying.

Neither special prosecutor Daniel Kasaris nor defense attorney Angelo Lonardo commented on the case.

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 all pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The investigation began in 2017.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, who took office in January, said Briya’s guilty plea is a “downpayment” on a promise to “hold accountable both corrupt public officials as well as the private sector funders of corruption.”

Sammarone’s trial is to start March 16, 2020, while the other defendants are scheduled to go on trial together 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.