Judge targeted in probe

BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) — Mahoning County Probate Judge Mark Belinky is the target of what state and local police are describing as an “ongoing investigation.”

On Friday, agents with Ohio BCI, the FBI and the Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office executed search warrants at Belinky’s home at 4032 Windsor Road in Boardman, as well as at his office. Agents seized documents, computer equipment and electronic media, but they would not comment on the nature of the investigation.

“On the advice of counsel, I will only say that since my election I have faithfully discharged my duties as judge of the Mahoning County Probate Court,” Belinky said in a telephone interview shortly after the story broke.

Belinky has faced financial problems in the past. In 2011, it was reported he owed more than $32,000 in back taxes to the IRS. A lien was filed in February 2011 that covered the 2008 and 2009 tax cycles and Belinky said at the time he was working with the IRS to pay off the debt.

In 2010, an investigator with Belinky’s office, Donald Gaudio, was placed on unpaid leave as part of an internal court investigation. Gaudio was then fired in July of 2011 over an altercation at the courthouse with a Boardman businessman, which Belinky said was “conduct that did not meet the court’s standards.”

In October of that same year, Gaudio filed papers with the state trying to cast doubt on why he was terminated and linking his dismissal with what he claimed was an ongoing investigation of Belinky by the FBI. The accusations were contained in an appeal after Gaudio was denied unemployment benefits.

However, the state rejected Gaudio’s claims, saying his firing was justifiable because he violated work rules.

Belinky was appointed to the bench in 2007 when former Probate Judge Tim Maloney retired. He won a full-term in November 2008 and has filed for re-election.

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