Government

Mahoning Judge Charged with Stealing from Client

CLEVELAND, Ohio — A Mahoning County judge, Diane Vettori-Caraballo, today was charged in federal court with stealing at least $96,200 from a former client.

Vettori-Caraballo, 49, of Youngstown, was charged via criminal information with one count of fraud, one count of structuring cash deposits and one count of making false statements to law enforcement.

The charges, detailed in this document, were jointly announced by U.S. Attorney Justin E. Herdman and FBI Special Agent in Charge Stephen D. Anthony.

Vettori-Caraballo stole between $96,200 and $328,000 in cash that was in the home of a client when that client died in March 2016, according to the bill of information.

She was first elected in 2002 to the position of judge in Mahoning County Court #3 – Sebring Court, 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 re-elected in 2006 and 2012.

Vettori-Caraballo also provided estate planning services to Robert Sampson, including drafting his will. On Nov. 20, 2015, she 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 information.

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 Humane Society of Boardman and the Angels for Animal Charity in Canfield, according to the bill of information.

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 information.

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 information.

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

The information also charged Vettori-Caraballo with structuring 22 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, the information charges that Vettori-Caraballo lied to the FBI when she was confronted about the theft and the structuring of cash deposits.

This case was investigated by the FBI and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brian McDonough and Ann C. Rowland.

If convicted, the sentence in this case will be determined by the court after consideration of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which depend upon a number of factors unique to each case, including the defendant’s prior criminal record, if any, the defendant’s role in the offense and the unique characteristics of the violation. In all cases the sentence will not exceed the statutory maximum and in most cases it will be less than the maximum.

An information is a charge and not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

SOURCE: Department of Justice, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Ohio.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.