DeGenova opposes parole for three Mahoning inmates

YOUNGSTOWN — The Mahoning County Prosecutor’s office seeks to keep three men — a murderer, a repeat rapist and a career criminal — locked up.

Prosecutor Gina DeGenova filed objections urging the Ohio Parole Board to deny parole to James Jonda, 76, who was was sentenced to 15 years to life for the June 11, 1989, murder of Steven “Tipper” Fukon.

Jonda also was sentenced to eight to 15 years on three counts of felonious assault and two years for carrying a concealed weapon. That sentence was ordered to be served at the same time as the Fukon murder.

Jonda’s convictions are the result of a plea agreement between the parties in March 1990. Fukon died because he was dating Jonda’s ex-girlfriend. Jonda and Donna Brown lived together in a common-law marriage from 1984 until 1989. During this time, the couple had a son. In December 1989, Brown, along with her son, moved out of the couple’s home and moved in with Fukon.

Brown’s relationship with Fukon caused Jonda much distress, prosecutors said in a news release. During the months leading up to Fukon’s death, Jonda made numerous threats to Fukon and others. In addition, police reports note that a criminal-damaging charge was pending against Jonda at the time of Fukon’s death for breaking windows at Fukon’s business.

Fukon also met with the Struthers prosecutor on allegations that Jonda shot at Fukon on May 18, 1989 — less than one month before Jonda shot and killed Fukon. On the day of the killing, Brown and her son were at her mother’s house at 421 McGaffney St., Lowellville. Jonda showed up at this residence and had to be removed by police. The same day, Brown was advised by Fukon that Jonda chased him from Lowellville Road to his yard in Youngstown.

Fukon also told Brown Jonda had been calling him all day and warned him not to go to Lowellville or he would be killed. Fukon told Brown to stay in her mother’s house with the door locked. A short time later, Brown heard what she believed to be a gunshot and Fukon calling her name for help. Brown ran outside and found Fukon lying in the front yard of her mother’s home. Fukon had been shot one time in the abdomen as he was exiting or standing at the driver’s door of his vehicle.

Jonda was indicted by the grand jury July 11, 1989, on one count of aggravated murder with a firearm specification, three counts of felonious assault, one count of carrying a concealed weapon and one count of drug abuse. A plea agreement was reached and Jonda pleaded guilty to one count murder, three counts of felonious assault and one count of carrying a concealed weapon.

The aggravated murder charge was reduced to murder and the charges for drug abuse and several firearms specifications were dropped. While Jonda has been incarcerated for more than 23 years, his behavior throughout his incarceration continues to demonstrate a lack of respect for authority. According to his institutional summary report, Jonda has been charged with 45 rule infractions or disciplinary matters, including several for fighting with other inmates. He has received no credit for good behavior and completed only 12 programs. Given Jonda’s well-documented history of disobedience, DeGenova urged the parole board to deny Jonda’s parole.

Jonda’s parole hearing will be in June, according to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections web site.


DeGenova also filed objections to parole for Bryan D. Bennett, 57, found guilty after a jury trial and sentenced to life in prison for the repeated rape of a 10-year-old boy. Mahoning County prosecutors call Bennett a “sexual predator who should remain behind bars.”

In 1995, a 10-year-old boy moved in with Bennett and his wife for about three to four months. The boy ended up at the Bennett residence because he was removed from his parents’ home, and Bennett knew the boy’s family. While no court proceeding ever formally appointed Bennet as the boy’s foster parent, the boy often referred to Bennett as his “foster father.” Bennett’s wife worked nights, often leaving Bennett home alone with the boy. On various occasions, Bennett would invite the boy into his bedroom to watch television. It was during these bedroom visits that Bennett sexually assaulted the boy.

Bennett was convicted by a jury of rape. Subsequently, the court declared Bennett a sexual predator.

The jury also found that Bennett repeatedly raped the boy in his home; that based upon psychological reports, Bennett attempted to mislead the examiner during the psychological examinations, making an accurate evaluation of him impossible; and there is clear and convincing evidence that Bennett likely will engage in this type of conduct in the future upon his release.

Bennett has served more than 25 years in the penitentiary. However, the “depravity of his crime against a 10-year-old boy, coupled with Bennett’s likelihood to re-offend demonstrates that the only way to keep society safe from Bennett is through his continued incarceration,” the parole board letter states.

Bennett has a parole hearing in June.


The prosecutor’s office also filed a letter urging the Ohio Parole Board to deny parole to inmate Clifford E. Miles, 62, a “career criminal having been convicted of a multitude of violent crimes in Ohio and New York from 1982 through 1996,” according to prosecutors.

Miles’ criminal history began in the the state of New York in 1978 at 16 when he was arrested for several thefts. Thereafter, he was arrested other crimes, including possession of stolen property and criminal trespass. In about 1980, he moved to Ohio, where he continued his criminal activity.

In 1982, Miles pleaded guilty to one count of burglary. Since a 1981 burglary conviction served as violation of his probation in his earlier case, the court sentenced him to two to 15 years in prison. He was released on parole on April 9, 1982, and returned to New York. Between 1982 and 1995, Miles continued to rack up arrests in New York. In 1995, he stabbed a home health-care worker hired by Miles to assist him with his two young daughters. The victim was stabbed with a knife and screwdriver 28 times and was repeatedly raped, according to the prosecutor’s office.

On about April 2, 1996, Miles pleaded guilty to one count of attempted murder in the Bronx and was sentenced to 10 to 20 years in prison. At some point in 2015, he was released from prison in New York and sent to Ohio to serve the remainder of his sentence for his 1981 burglary conviction and probation violation. It is from this sentence that Miles is up for parole.

His history within the Ohio prison system “demonstrates a lack of respect for rules or authority,” the letter states. Since September, 2015, Miles has had 18 rules infractions, 14 of which occurred in the last five years. While incarcerated in New York, he received 32 moderate-severity and 10 high-severity infractions. He also was found guilty of three sexual violations against inmates.

Miles has a parole hearing in June.

Laura E. Austen, deputy director, Policy and Outreach for the Office of the Ohio Public Defender, said she does not comment on pending parole cases for inmates.


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