Still No Trial Dates Set for Corruption Cases
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Downtown developer Dominic Marchionda and former city finance director David Bozanich are not likely to stand trial on charges of public corruption anytime soon, according to the state attorney prosecuting their cases.
“If there’s a trial, it’s going to be in 2021,” said Dan Kasaris, special prosecuting attorney with the Ohio Attorney General’s office, after he and counsel representing the defendants participated in a pretrial telephone conference Thursday with Mahoning County Common Pleas Judge Maureen Sweeney.
“We didn’t set a trial date and we’re not ready to pick one yet,” Kasaris said.
Marchionda and Bozanich face charges in a 101-count indictment handed down in 2018. Initially, the two were to be tried together starting on June 1, but in April Judge Sweeney ordered them separated.
The uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic then forced the court to postpone both trials and no new dates have been scheduled.
Ralph Cascarilla, Bozanich’s attorney, said the delay is in part related to the pandemic, but he also noted without being specific that there were “additional things going on in related activities” that required attention. Another conference call should be scheduled for sometime next week, he said.
Cascarilla said that courts all across the country are struggling with the issue of the pandemic and it’s difficult to determine when his client’s trial will go forward. “We’re still working through logistics and so forth,” he said.
Marchionda’s attorney, John McCaffery, also said there would be a follow up with the court sometime next week, while a pretrial conference with clients should be scheduled in August.
Prosecutors allege that Marchionda used at least $600,000 in public money earmarked for downtown development projects for his own personal use.
The state alleges that Bozanich accepted a $20,000 bribe from Philip Beshara, former president of B&B Contractors & Developers Inc. In exchange, Bozanich threw his support behind city financial incentives for the Flats at Wick, a student-housing complex developed by Marchionda in which B&B served as the general contractor, according to prosecutors.
During a hearing in January, Beshara testified that in 2009 he gave Bozanich $20,000 at a Boardman restaurant in return for the city’s support for the project.
The state also alleges that Bozanich received gifts, free meals and payments totaling at least $100,000 from Ray Briya, the former chief financial officer for MS Consultants, an engineering and architectural firm in Youngstown. Briya testified that he had an interest in Exal Leasing Corp. a company that was formed to construct a plant for Exal Corp., an aluminum container company in Youngstown.
Exal Leasing secured a $1.7 million city loan to complete the project with the understanding that Exal Corp. would purchase the building in five years. Exal bought the building from the leasing company in 2001, and prosecutors say that Briya’s share of the sale was more than $765,000.
In February, Briya testified that he paid Bozanich in four installments beginning in 2006 through The Village Traveler, a travel agency in which Bozanich had an interest. Briya testified that the payments were in return for Bozanich’s help with the Exal project.
Both defendants have pleaded not guilty to the charges.
In March, former Youngstown mayor Charles Sammarone, who was initially charged alongside Bozanich and Marchionda in the 2018 indictment, pleaded guilty to two counts of tampering with records.
He was sentenced to five years probation and 30 days of supervised community service.
Pictured: Judge Maureen Sweeney talks with attorneys during a January pretrial hearing the corruption cases of Dominic Marchionda and David Bozanich.
Copyright 2023 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.