Former Judge Enters Guilty Plea to Theft Charges

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Former Mahoning County Judge Diane Vettori-Caraballo will be sentenced June 13 after pleading guilty to charges stemming from stealing at least $100,000 from a former client.

Vettori-Caraballo, 50, of Youngstown, pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud, one count of structuring cash deposits, and one count of making false statements to law enforcement, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio.

Her husband, Ismael Caraballo, pleaded guilty to a tax count.

Vettori-Caraballo stole between $100,200 and $328,000 in cash that was in the home of a client when that client died in March 2016, according to the indictment.

Vettori-Caraballo was elected as judge in Mahoning County Court #3 – Sebring Court in 2002, with jurisdiction over misdemeanor criminal and traffic charges and other matters in Sebring and Beloit villages and Berlin, Green, Goshen, Ellsworth, Smith and Washingtonville townships. She was reelected in 2006 and 2012.

Additionally, she provided estate planning services to Robert Sampson, including drafting his will. On Nov. 20, 2015, Vettori-Caraballo filed an application in Mahoning County Probate Court to administer Sampson’s estate. The application stated Sampson died without a will. The probate court, unaware of Sampson’s will, appointed Falgiani as the administrator three days later, according to the indictment. 

Sampson died in 2015 and his closest living relative was his sister, Dolores Falgiani. Vettori-Caraballo prepared Falgiani’s will on Nov. 3, 2015. The will made 16 specific bequests to relatives and friends and bequeathed the rest of the estate to Animal Charity Human Society of Boardman and the Angels for Animal Charity in Canfield, according to the indictment.

Sometime in October or November 2015, Falgiani stated she was in possession of several shoeboxes of cash stored at her residence. Falgiani was found dead in her home on March 10, 2016, according to the indictment.

Vettori-Caraballo filed an application in Mahoning County Probate Court to probate Falgiani’s estate on March 24, 2016. On May 2, she reported having found cash in the residence and depositing the $20,000 into the estate, according to the indictment.

Vettori-Caraballo filed a notice of newly discovered assets with the court on several subsequent occasions in 2016 and 2017. Each time, she failed to disclose the cash she had stolen, according to the indictment.

Vettori-Caraballo also structured deposits of the cash she stole into five different banks within four weeks to avoid regulations that require banks to report cash transactions over $10,000 to the IRS. In addition, Vettori-Caraballo lied to the FBI when she was confronted about the theft and the structuring of cash deposits, according to court documents.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brian M. McDonough and Alex Abreu.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.