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Oakhill file points to FBI role

By Peter H. Milliken

Thursday, December 23, 2010

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By Peter H. Milliken


A document unsealed this week by a visiting judge reveals significant FBI involvement in the Oak-hill Renaissance Place criminal- conspiracy investigation, despite the fact that the Oakhill defendants were indicted only on state charges.

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Hundreds of pages of documents in the Oakhill Renaissance Place criminal case were made public Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2010.

Cafaro Court Case Documents - Uploaded 12/21/10
Cafaro Court Case Documents

The document was one of several documents unsealed this week by visiting Judge William H. Wolff Jr. of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court, who will preside over the Oakhill trial, which is set to begin June 6.

Although he unsealed these documents, Judge Wolff refused a Vindicator and 21 WFMJ-TV request to unseal the bills of particulars detailing the accusations against those charged with participating in the conspiracy. The judge said releasing the bills would make selection of an impartial jury here unlikely.

“The FBI has provided some investigative assistance to the special prosecutors” and delivered documents to them to assist them in their probe of the Oakhill matter, wrote supervisory agents C. Frank Figliuzzi and John E. Stoll of the Youngstown FBI office.

A review of FBI case files “has located thousands of documents related to and responsive to the Mahoning County case under indictment,” which have been turned over to the special prosecutors, they wrote in an Oct. 28 letter to Atty. George Stamboulidis of New York City.

Stamboulidis is a lawyer for Anthony M. Cafaro Sr., former president of the Cafaro Co., who is among five people and three companies indicted by a Mahoning County grand jury July 28 in an alleged conspiracy to impede the move of the county’s Department of Job and Family Services from Cafaro Co.-owned rented quarters to Oakhill.

The FBI agents said they believe the special prosecutors, who work for the Ohio Ethics Commission and the Lorain County Prosecutor’s Office, have provided the documents to the Oakhill defendants.

In addition to Anthony Cafaro Sr., the conspiracy defendants include the Cafaro Co. and two of its affiliates, county Commissioner John A. McNally IV, county Auditor Michael V. Sciortino, former county Treasurer John B. Reardon and former JFS Director John Zachariah.

Oakhill is the former Forum Health Southside Medical Center, which the county bought in 2006 and to which JFS moved the following year.

In response to Stamboulidis’ request for delivery to the defense of more of the prosecution’s evidence, the FBI agents said they gave the special prosecutors everything they found in FBI files that relates to Oakhill.

“To the extent that there are other ongoing investigations relative to the conduct of your client, an invitation to discuss the resolution of those matters is sincerely extended to you and your client,” the supervisory agents wrote to Stamboulidis, without elaborating.

The letter then invites Stamboulidis to arrange the meeting through Agent Deane Hassman in the Youngstown FBI office.

The previously sealed letter was attached to a Cafaro motion to extend the pretrial motion filing deadline past Jan. 3. The judge granted that motion and extended the deadline to 90 days after the special prosecutors finish delivering all their evidence to the defense.

So far, the prosecutors have delivered more than 56,000 pages of evidence to the defense in the process known as discovery.

The other exhibit attached to that motion, which the judge also unsealed this week, is a Nov. 29 letter from the Cafaro lawyers to the special prosecutors saying they weren’t satisfied with the Oct. 28 FBI letter.

The defense lawyers wrote that they’re entitled to receive, and still haven’t received, FBI agents’ original notes from numerous interviews they conducted with Reardon, county Treasurer Lisa Antonini, Atty. Martin Yavorcik and Bruce Zoldan, chief executive officer of B.J. Alan Fireworks Co.

Atty. Yavorcik and Flora Cafaro, Anthony Caaro’s sister and part-owner of the Cafaro Co., are charged only with money laundering and not with conspiracy.

Zoldan and Antonini have not been charged with any crime.

“Contradictions or discrepancies in the statement of a witness collected from one interview to the next exculpate the accused and serve to impeach his accusers. Such impeachment evidence is critical to the defense,” Stamboulidis and his colleagues wrote.

“We know the FBI is in possession of certain employee interviews (e.g. Dominic Rosselli, the CFO [chief financial officer] of the referenced Cafaro entities),” the defense lawyers wrote, adding that reports from those interviews have been withheld from the defense.

Rosselli is not charged with any crime.

The defense lawyers also requested logs and photographs concerning apparent surveillance of the Oakhill defendants by law-enforcement personnel.

The defense lawyers say they believe the FBI has written and recorded statements from the defendants and representatives of the Cafaro-related entities and want those to be produced for the defense.

“We have received no materials relating to information or summaries of information from cooperating witnesses or informants,” the defense lawyers added.

Paul Nick, chief investigative counsel for the Ohio Ethics Commission and one of the special prosecutors, said the FBI and Mahoning County Sheriff’s office have worked with the special prosecutors on the Oakhill probe.

As to the defense’s evidence-disclosure requests, Nick would say only: “There are some issues under federal and state discovery laws and public-records laws and confidentiality rules that are at stake.”