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Oh, how the mighty in Valley have fallen

The rise and fall of DeBartolo, Monus and Cafaro

Sunday, February 1, 2015

On the page opposite this one (for subscribers, that’s Page A15) is a picture of Edward J. DeBartolo Jr. — “Eddie” — in a parade on Jan. 29, 1990, in San Francisco, celebrating his 49ers’ Super Bowl victory. This son of privilege owned the pro football team (a gift from his late father, Edward J. DeBartolo Sr., the nation’s leading shopping center developer) for about 15 years starting in 1981.

During that time, the 49ers won five Super Bowls, making DeBartolo Jr. one of the most recognized owners in the country and the pride of the Mahoning Valley.

He rode that wave of adoration for years — until it all came crashing down in 1997 when he pleaded guilty to a

felony charge of failing to report that then-Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards had attempted to extort money from him in a gambling scheme.

DeBartolo Jr. paid a $1 million fine and was suspended as the owner of the 49ers by then-NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue.

But his fall from grace in the Valley occurred when he gave up his major interest in the football team to his sister, Denise DeBartolo York.

DeBartolo York’s son, Jed, now runs the team.


That said, there’s no reason to feel sorry for the man who cast such a large shadow for so long over this region at a time when the economy was in the doldrums. Consider this factoid from Forbes magazine: The former owner of the 49ers is a highly successful real estate developer in Tampa, Fla., worth more than $2 billion.

There was another son of privilege who also took the Mahoning Valley by storm when he was riding high, but then crashed and burned — much to the dismay of this region.

Michael I. Monus, son of long-time Valley businessman Nate, grabbed the attention of business writers — and business schools — when he built an empire of deep discount drugstores called Phar-Mor. Monus not only opened more than 300 stores, but also owned the Youngstown Pride of the World Basketball League. The team played in Youngstown State University’s Beeghly Center.

In addition, golf enthusiasts in the Mahoning Valley were swept up in the excitement of the Phar-Mor Golf Classic that attracted some of the top professional female golfers.

But then came Mickey Monus’ fall from grace. He perpetrated a nearly $1 billion fraud and embezzlement scheme that resulted in his being found guilty in federal court of 109 counts.

He was ultimately sentenced to 139 months in prison and five years’ supervised release. He was fined $500,000.

Monus is now living in Florida.

Finally, there are the brothers of privilege, Anthony M. Cafaro Sr. and John J. Cafaro, both of whom have attracted the attention of prosecutors.

J.J., once on the A-List of presidents (as in Ronald Reagan) and potentates (as in the Kennedy Royal Family), pleaded guilty in 2010 in federal court to violating federal elections law.

The charge stemmed from his

involvement in the 2004 congressional

campaign of his daughter, Capri

Cafaro, a state senator.

J.J. served as executive vice president of the Cafaro Co., one of the leading shopping center developers in the country started by his late father, William. J.J. retired not too long ago.

Oakhill Renaissance scandal

And while his brush with the law may be a thing of the past, his brother,

Anthony, the retired president of the Cafaro Co., is the main character in the so-called Oakhill Renaissance Place scandal.

The graphic on the front page of last Sunday’s Vindicator shows how

Anthony Cafaro allegedly orchestrated a conspiracy to block Mahoning County’s purchase of Oakhill Renaissance Place, the former South Side Medical Center.

The purchase did occur — despite

attempts by Cafaro’s minions in county government to block it. And with the purchase came the relocation of the county’s Job and Family Services agency from the Cafaro Co.-owned Garland Plaza to Oakhill.

Three individuals named as co-conspirators are facing a slew of charges,

and there’s every indication that other heads will roll.

It’s inconceivable, in light of the

information made public by prosecutors, that Anthony M. Cafaro Sr. will not be charged and have his day in court.

Oh, how our mighty have fallen — and keep falling.

The public is left to despair.