Corruption in county must end

The black eye that Mahoning County has sported many times in the not-so-distant past returned last week when longtime public contractor Raymond Briya pleaded guilty to charges indicating that he took money from the private firm he worked for to bribe public officials.

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

A special prosecutor is recommending that Briya serve no prison time, so long as he cooperates in the corruption probe and other criminal cases. Briya also paid $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. Briya was charged in a bill of information Aug. 29 with two counts of attempted bribery, tampering with records, grand theft and obstructing justice.

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.

Of course, Sammarone, Bozanich and Marchionda all remain innocent until proven guilty. But even the fact that they are facing trial sheds a bad light on the city, its elected officials and its constituents.

How embarrassing that Mahoning County has been known for this type of activity in the past and that, even now, years after the FBI moved into the 1990s to probe allegations of bribery and corruption involving more than 75 residents and public officials from Mahoning and Trumbull counties, that it seems to still be going on.

Let us hope that when these cases draw to a close, that this time, it is really the end of it.


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