Government

Former Niles Mayor Indicted on 56 Criminal Counts

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WARREN, Ohio – A Trumbull County grand jury today issued a 56-count indictment against Ralph Infante, former mayor of Niles.

Also indicted by the grand jury were the former mayor’s wife, Judy Infante; Scott Shaffer, identified as a city of Niles employee; and ITAM #39, which the former mayor operated, according to a news release from state Attorney General Mike DeWine.

The case was investigated by the Ohio Auditor of State’s Office with assistance from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the Federal Bureau of investigation. The charges are being prosecuted by the attorney general’s Special Prosecutions Section. The case has been assigned to Visiting Judge Patricia Ann Cosgrove of Summit County.

Niles has been in fiscal emergency since October 2014.

The indictment alleges that Infante, who served as Niles mayor from 1992 to 2016 — losing to Thomas Scarnecchia in last year’s primary, was engaged in graft and accepting bribes, as well as operating an illegal gambling enterprise out of ITAM #39 in Girard. He is accused of accepting nearly $200,000 in unreported cash, income and gifts.

The indictment against Infante includes one count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, 17 counts of tampering with records, two counts of gambling, two counts of operating a gambling house, five counts of money laundering, three counts of theft in office, one count of theft and four counts of bribery.

The indictment also alleges that Judy Infante assisted her husband in tampering with records and that Shaffer sold city property for cash without returning such funds to the city auditor and used city property and equipment for personal reasons for more than a decade.

“Today’s indictment and the investigation regarding the city of Niles are the latest efforts my office has undertaken to help fight corruption in the Mahoning Valley,” DeWine said in a statement.

“The Oakhill investigation has been completed, yielding significant successes, including guilty pleas and guilty verdicts for high-ranking county officials, candidates and judges,” DeWine continued. “While some matters like Oakhill are now done (and we anticipate no further indictments in Oakhill), we will continue to help local governments, when requested, investigate and prosecute wrongdoing, just like we have done in Niles and elsewhere around Ohio.”

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.