Mayor's Indictment Concerns Chamber President

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio -- The public corruption indictments handed down Wednesday (READ STORY) that name the city’s mayor, the county auditor and an attorney brought to Tom Humphries’ mind a period, beginning in 1998, when dozens of indictments and prosecutions of individuals included the sheriff, the prosecutor, judges and the congressman.

“I pray to God this isn’t the start of something all over again because it takes us way back,” Humphries, president and CEO of the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber, remarked.

Yesterday a Cuyahoga County grand jury indicted Youngstown Mayor John McNally IV, Mahoning County Auditor Michael Sciortino and local attorney Marty Yavorcik on multiple public corruption changes related to the county’s purchase of Oakhill Renaissance Place. In 2010, McNally, at the time a Mahoning County commissioner, and Sciortino were indicted for allegedly conspiring with Anthony Cafaro Sr., then CEO of The Cafaro Co., to block the county's purchase of Oakhill. The charges were subsequently dismissed.

“It’s not good,” Humphries said after commenting on Wednesday’s welcome news -- the confirmation by the U.S. Senate of former Youngstown Mayor Jay Williams as assistant secretary for economic development in the U.S. Department of Commerce, where he will head the Economic Development Administration.

“This kind of thing really sets you back because it’s the integrity of the community, it’s the population,” the Regional Chamber official said. He expressed the hope that the issues are resolved swiftly and quickly.

Humphries recalled the role Williams played in helping to bring about Vallourec Star’s new pipe mill, including a visit he made to the company’s leadership in Paris.

“That is extremely important. Mayors are very important people in the global economy. They’re respected, they’re decision makers and people receive them well,” he reflected. When that leadership is in question, “It creates a bit of a challenge because that’s one more issue that we have to deal with,” Humphries said. “And when we deal with Youngstown, for example, we deal with a lot of incentive programs and those incentive programs are put on hold because they don’t know what to trust and what not. So it has a significant impact on economic development.”  

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-13 Ohio, declined to comment through a spokesman.

Other local elected officials, including state Reps. Bob Hagan and Ron Gerberry and Mahoning County Commissioners David Ditzler, Anthony Traficanti and Carol Rimedio-Righetti, did not respond to phone calls or email inquiries for comment.

"I am deeply concerned and saddened by today’s events," responded attorney David Betras, chairman of the Mahoning County Democratic Party. "As an officer of the court I have absolute faith in our legal system." Like every citizen "and even Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine," who announced the charges Wednesday, Betras said he would afford McNally and Sciortino their constitutional rights.

Joe Bell, Cafaro Co.’s director of corporate communications said he didn’t expect the company to comment as neither the company nor any individuals involved with it are charged with any wrongdoing.

MORE:
Oakhill Indictments List 'Pattern of Corrupt Activity
McNally, Sciortino, Yavorcik Charged with Public Corruption

Copyright 2013 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.
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