Public corruption continued to stain Valley in 2020

YOUNGSTOWN — Political corruption in the Mahoning Valley never seems to go away, and this year saw former Youngstown Finance Director David Bozanich, ex-Mayor Charles Sammarone and downtown developer Dominic Marchionda plead guilty to felony charges.

Rather than go to trial on the 101 counts in an Aug. 30, 2018, indictment, the three took deals with Bozanich being the only one sentenced to prison for his crimes.

This story ranks seventh in this newspaper’s Top 10 stories of the year.

Mahoning County Common Pleas Court Judge Maureen Sweeney sentenced Bozanich Sept. 3 to one year in state prison for four crimes he committed as part of the city government corruption investigation. He also received three years of probation.

Bozanich was convicted of one felony count each of bribery and tampering with records and two misdemeanor counts of unlawful compensation of a public official.

The tampering count was for Bozanich giving $1.2 million from the city’s water fund to Marchionda if he gave $1 million back to the city’s general fund in December 2009 to buy the now closed Madison Avenue fire station property. That illegal transaction allowed Bozanich to balance the city’s general fund that year.

The bribery conviction was for accepting free golf from Raymond Briya, a former MS Consultants Inc. chief financial officer, so his company could secure work from the city. Briya, who cooperated with prosecutors, got 180 days of house arrest Sept. 3 for five felony convictions related to the scandal.

Bozanich’s unlawful compensation convictions were for more free golf from Briya and for not paying $10,000 in legal fees to attorney Stephen Garea for work he did for Bozanich’s ex-wife.

Marchionda also was sentenced Sept. 3, getting five years of probation and 1,250 of community service for four felony tampering with records convictions.

Marchionda created four false invoices, totaling $260,625, to Youngstown for work that was supposed to be for his Erie Terminal downtown housing project, but actually went to pay for work for the Flats at Wick student housing complex.

Some Youngstown council members said Bozanich’s sentence was too lenient and were disappointed Marchionda wasn’t ordered to serve any prison time.

Sammarone, mayor from August 2011 to December 2013, was sentenced by Sweeney March 16 to 30 days of community service and five years of probation for two felony tampering with records convictions.

Sammarone, who spent more than 32 years in city government, pleaded guilty to two counts of tampering with records for not reporting rental income he received from owning a condo in Florida on his 2012 and 2013 Ohio Ethics Commission financial disclosure statements and / or for accepting money he illegally received from Briya.

John Shultz, Sammarone’s attorney, insisted the former mayor never accepted money illegally.

Some council members said Sammarone’s conviction made the city look bad.



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