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2 county assistant prosecutors return

Back in the saddle, again

YOUNGSTOWN — The Mahoning County Prosecutor’s Office, which lost some key assistant prosecutors over the past year, has taken down the “help wanted” sign after hiring multiple new lawyers and seeing the return of two whom had left, including Jennifer McLaughlin, who was chief of the criminal division when she departed a year ago.

Another returnee is Kevin Day, who went to work in June as an assistant prosecutor in Cuyahoga County but came back to Mahoning a couple of weeks ago. Day prosecuted cases under the Violence Against Women Act grant in Mahoning County and is returning to that work.

McLaughlin left to be an assistant U.S. attorney but returned to the prosecutor’s office a couple of weeks ago.

Gina DeGenova, Mahoning County prosecutor, said the return of McLaughlin and Day allows the office to start up a new Special Victims Unit.

McLaughlin will be section chief over the unit, which will work on crimes against women and children and a still-being-developed animal abuse unit. Those prosecutions will focus on animal cruelty cases, neglect and abuse. Also being developed is a elder abuse unit, which will focus on crimes committed against the elderly and vulnerable populations such as those with developmental disabilities or special needs.

The Special Victims Unit also will oversee see the work of Hope, the victim support dog that is in training and is expected to be certified in the first quarter of next year.

“I wanted to create this unit for some time, but Jen coming back, it was a perfect opportunity to get it going,” DeGenova said, adding McLaughlin is an “avid animal lover, and is the perfect person to oversee the operations of that unit.”

Her office is in conversations with Animal Charity of Ohio, the local human agency, to help in its work with animals in Mahoning County. DeGenova said she hopes to be able to assist Animal Charity with its animal prosecutions.

The prosecutor’s office already works with Animal Charity on felony animal abuse cases, “but we want to expand our role in that area,” she said.

The prosecutors office also hired Kyle Hilles and Anthony Carbone in November to work as assistant prosecutors in the criminal division after they worked as legal interns while working toward their law degree. After passing the bar exam, they became full-time employees.

Carbone is assigned to work in the county courts on misdemeanor prosecutions, and Hilles is assigned to the criminal division to work on felony cases. They are in training, assisting on cases.

Another new criminal prosecutor is Daniel Yozwiak, who has worked at the prosecutor’s office for a couple of months. He is working on prosecutions under the Violence Against Women Act grant and also will be part of the Special Victims Unit.

DeGenova said she does not need to hire anyone else right now, but if the prosecutor’s office ends up taking on more cases on behalf of Animal Charity, that could change.

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