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Bozanich gets early release from prison

David Bozanich has been released from prison early....Staff photo

YOUNGSTOWN — David Bozanich, the disgraced former Youngstown finance director sentenced to a year behind bars in a public corruption scandal, is out of state prison.

Bozanich’s release date was Sept. 2, but he was set free Sunday, about six weeks early, according to his Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction certification of incarceration document.

Explaining his early release, JoEllen Smith, spokeswoman for the state department, said: “Mr. Bozanich earned credit days toward his sentence for program completion.”

Bozanich, 64, now will serve three years of probation.

Bozanich was convicted Aug. 7, 2020, in a plea deal to one felony count each of bribery and tampering with records and two misdemeanor counts of unlawful compensation of a public official. He was originally charged with 18 felonies in an Aug. 30, 2018, indictment.

Judge Maureen Sweeney of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court sentenced Bozanich on Sept. 3, 2020.

Bozanich had served his time at the Lake Erie Correctional Institution in Conneaut since Sept. 14, 2020, after 11 days in the Mahoning County jail while waiting to be processed by the state system.

The DRC recommended Bozanich be moved to a halfway house around March 8, but Sweeney denied the request.

During his sentencing, Sweeney said: “Mr. Bozanich, you should be ashamed of yourself. As a public official, you abused the trust of the people of Youngstown.”

Bozanich’s tampering conviction was for giving $1.2 million from the city’s water fund to downtown developer Dominic Marchionda, a co-defendant, if the latter gave $1 million back to the city’s general fund in December 2009 to buy the former Madison Avenue fire station property. That illegal transaction allowed Bozanich to balance the city’s general fund that year.

Sources say the state auditor is reviewing the transaction and may ask the city to have the general fund pay back $500,000 each to the water and wastewater funds. The sources said the auditor’s office is also looking into additional water and wastewater money given to Marchionda by the city for other projects.

Allison Dumski, an auditor spokeswoman, said: “We are aware of the situation in Youngstown, but that is all I can comment at this time.”

At the insistence of the state auditor, the city agreed in April to use its general fund to reimburse $4.4 million it improperly spent in 2017 and 2018 from the water, wastewater and environmental sanitation fund, primarily for economic development including for Marchionda projects.

CONVICTIONS

Marchionda was sentenced Sept. 3, 2020, to five years of probation and 1,250 hours of community service for four felony convictions of tampering with records.

Bozanich’s bribery conviction was for accepting free golf from Raymond Briya, a former MS Consultants Inc. chief financial officer, so his company “could secure work for or within the city of Youngstown, then devised a scheme to hide the benefits,” according to the indictment.

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

Briya and Garea cooperated with prosecutors. Garea wasn’t charged with any crimes while Briya pleaded guilty to five felonies in a deal and was sentenced Sept. 3, 2020, to 180 days of house arrest.

Ex-Youngstown Mayor Charles Sammarone, another co-defendant, accepted a plea deal on March 16, 2020, to two felony tampering with records counts. He was put on probation for five years and given 30 days of community service.

dskolnick@vindy.com

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