McNally : No Intention of Resigning as Mayor

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Mayor John McNally says he has no intention of resigning following his agreement Friday morning to accept a guilty plea of four misdemeanors in the Oakhill Renaissance Place corruption case.

This afternoon, Mahoning County Democratic Party Chairman David Betras called on McNally to step down as mayor because his plea agreement “related directly to his duties” as an elected official.

“At the very least, I believe he should not seek reelection when his term expires. If he does not [resign], the voters will have their say when it comes time for his reelection,” Betras said in an emailed statement.

McNally noted that the charges against him addressed allegations from when he served as a Mahoning County commissioner and that he and his legal team “would not agree to any terms that would require me to step down from being mayor.” He said he hadn’t seen Betras’ statement as of just before 4 p.m. but was aware that the Democratic chairman intended to call for his resignation.

“I told Dave, ‘Do what you have to do.’ He knows that I don’t have any intention of steeping down,” he said.

Betras acknowledged that McNally was not obligated to resign and that it wouldn’t be “unprecedented for an elected official to remain in office after pleading guilty to misdemeanor charges.” In 2005, Gov. Robert Taft, who pleaded no contest to and was subsequently convicted of four misdemeanors related to failing to disclose gifts he had accepted from lobbyists, remained in office for the rest of his term.

McNally’s agreement with prosecutors calls for him to pay a $3,500 fine and cooperate with prosecutors. “If they have any other questions about the Oakhill purchase or anything else they’re looking into they need to ask me questions about, I’ll meet with them and I’ll answer truthfully,” he said.

The plea agreement also stipulates there will be no jail time.

McNally acknowledged he felt a “large sense of relief” following today’s hearing.

“I came to the political, professional and personal belief that it was time to put Oakhill behind me, even if I had to take some lumps,” he told The Business Journal. “So I’ve agreed to what I’ve agreed to, and I’m looking forward to getting back to being mayor full time.”

McNally said that after concluding his interview with The Business Journal, he planned to meet with his attorney “to help unpack some stuff” and “wouldn’t be surprised if I have a Budweiser with her.” He also planned to go to soccer signups and a school fish fry.

“After that, to be honest, my weekend is now free,” he said. “The past two months have been pretty much seven days a week trial preparation in addition to making sure that things in the city that I have to attend do are getting done, so this frees up this weekend.”

Also accepting a plea agreement this morning was former Mahoning County Auditor Michael V. Sciortino.

Sciortino and McNally will be sentenced March 28.

Sciortini will plead guilty to one felony and two misdemeanors, and agree not to hold any public position for seven years. He also will cooperate with prosecutors and not spend any time in prison.

The third person charged in the Oakhill case is attorney Martin Yavorcik who did not accept a plea agreement. His criminal trial is scheduled to March 14.

The plea deals came as evidentiary hearings were scheduled to begin this morning before Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Janet R. Burnside.

Among the charges lodged against McNally, Sciortino and Yavorcik were engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, conspiracy and perjury.

The case centers on the decision to relocate Mahoning County’s Department of Job and Family Services from a retail plaza on the city’s east side to Oakhill Renaissance Place, formerly Southside Hospital. The retail plaza was owned by the Cafaro Co. and prosecutors claimed McNally, Sciortino and Yavorcik illegally acted in the Cafaro Co.’s interests in attempting to thwart the relocation.

Pictured: Mayor John McNally.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.