Hanni, Morley deny allegations made in court

Michael Morley said accusations that he gave $20,000 to a former attorney to use his influence with the Ohio Supreme Court are ridiculous.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Testimony in the racketeering cases of two ex-Mahoning County prosecutor's office employees includes mention of two former Mahoning County Democratic chairmen.
And though Don L. Hanni Jr. and Michael Morley don't agree on many things, both said they had nothing to do with fixing cases.
Former Prosecutor James Philomena, who is serving state and federal prison terms for fixing cases, testified Tuesday that he fixed a case for Hanni. In statements made to the FBI, Philomena said Hanni paid him $5,000 in 1994 or 1995 to fix a case involving a man who murdered his cousin.
Hanni said today that Philomena is a liar. "I never gave him 5,000 cents, much less 5,000 dollars. I'm cheap, and besides, I don't have to fix cases. Those that I think are triable, I try, and those that aren't, I try to work out a plea agreement."
Hanni, who served 16 years as Democratic chairman through 1994, said he "never had a cordial relationship with Philomena. I had a more than casual relationship with him, but I didn't have a Stu Banks or Jack Campbell or Larry Seidita relationship with him." Philomena has admitted accepting bribes from those three while he was prosecutor.
Hanni said if he actually had a close relationship with Philomena and wanted to fix cases, the former county prosecutor would have been able to point to more than just one instance of it occurring.
"Why would I only fix one case with him?" Hanni said.
Speculating on reason: Hanni said his name was brought up by Philomena as a way to get back at him. He said that before the 1996 election, which Philomena lost to Paul J. Gains, Philomena asked him to publicly state he was not supporting Philomena's re-election bid so the public would not connect the two. Hanni did not do so.
"He doesn't like me and he's trying to get back at me," Hanni said of Philomena. "When this whole investigation started, everyone thought my name would come up immediately. Maybe there's a great deal of disappointment it didn't."
Banks' testimony: Also, Stuart J. Banks testified that Morley, a five-year Democratic chairman who succeeded Hanni in 1994, paid Banks $20,000 to use his influence regarding a case appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court.
The 1990 case involved a man represented by Morley who won a $1.7 million claim against Nationwide Insurance. Banks said he called two Supreme Court justices on Morley's behalf. Banks testified that the case was not heard by the state's highest court.
Morley said he has no idea what Banks is referring to in his testimony.
"It's definitely not true, and I'm amazed to hear it," Morley said during a telephone interview from New York City. "It truly doesn't make any sense."
Morley said that not only did he have no relationship with Banks, but he was instrumental in getting Banks fired as an attorney with the county Child Support Enforcement Agency six years ago.
"I played a key role in discharging him, and now he's making these ridiculous accusations against me," Morley said. "It's absurd. On the face of it, it's ridiculous. He was aligned with the other side of the political spectrum. I'm not worried about [the accusations], except it's a drag."