Auditor: I’m sorry

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Mahoning County Auditor Michael Sciortino on Wednesday apologized for actions that led to an investigation that ended with sheriff’s officers being disciplined.

Sciortino, in a written statement, never said he drove drunk on May 26, but acknowledged making a mistake that night.

“I may often stumble as a human being, but I will never allow an unfortunate distraction like this to stand in the way of the job we must perform in the County Auditor’s office every day,” Sciortino said.

Special investigators from the Summit County Sheriff’s Office determined Tuesday that Sciortino should have been arrested for drunk driving. Instead, Lt. T.J. Assion showed up after Sciortino failed field sobriety tests and was arrested for drunk driving, helped un-arrest Sciortino and drove the auditor home in his cruiser.

Sciortino was only cited for weaving across marked lanes. He paid the $130 fine.

Sheriff Jerry Greene and Mahoning County Prosecutor Paul Gains said Wednesday they will ask the state’s Attorney General if he believes further criminal action against Sciortino is warranted.

“My opinion is that it would be very difficult, but there’s certainly nothing wrong with getting a fresh set of eyes and a separate opinion,” Greene said.

Mahoning County Commissioner Carol Rimedio Righetti said she believes no further prosecution is necessary.

“I think Mike will have to deal with that on his own,” Rimedio Righetti said. “I don’t believe anybody should be charged with anything.”

Dash-cam video obtained by WKBN shows Assion leading Sciortino, who at one point was handcuffed, to his cruiser to give the auditor a ride home. The report says Sciortino failed field sobriety tests and was under arrest for drunk driving before another deputy intervened.

The report says the video, along with how Sciortino acted when someone saw him sleeping in his car at a nearby Wendy’s parking lot and based on how he acted during field sobriety tests, led investigators to believe he was driving drunk.

The report says when Sgt. James Touville asked Sciortino if he was drinking, he first shrugged his shoulders, then said he had one or two drinks.

Three sheriff’s officers were disciplined, including Assion, the sheriff’s union leader, who Greene said was friends with Sciortino. Assion, Greene said, un-arrested Sciortino on a drunk driving charge and gave him a ride home.

Assion was demoted to the sergeant rank that will coincide with a yearly $19,000 pay cut. Greene said he was “very troubled” Assion would stop an arrest. He also noted Assion is a highly-regarded officer.

The shift commander that night, Maj. Jeff Allen, was suspended for 10 days because he was instructed to alert Greene of any “high-profile situation” and failed to do so that night, Greene said. Allen was told about the stop and eventually called Assion and alerted him that Sciortino was pulled over, Greene said.

Touville, who pulled Sciortino over, has a hearing set to determine what discipline he will face.

Assion and Touville both decided Sciortino’s impairment was “medically related” though investigators noted no one, including Sciortino, asked for medical assistance, the report says.

Sheriff Jerry Greene said the FBI interviewed Sciortino, but he would not reveal why.

“I am deeply regretful for the unfortunate circumstances that evening. I know that I let myself, family, friends, supporters and office down, and for that I am sorry,” Sciortino said. “I have nothing but remorse for the pain I have caused the officers who have been disciplined over my traffic stop…to them and their families, I am sorry.”

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