YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — Mark Belinky sat on the Mahoning County Probate Court bench for the past six years, but now he has lost his law license and could be facing prison time after pleading guilty to a state charge Thursday afternoon.
Belinky walked into a Mahoning County Common Pleas Courtroom Thursday afternoon for the first time since resigning almost two months ago amid a state corruption probe. He pleaded guilty to what is called a Bill of Information on a single count of tampering with records.
According to court documents, Belinky failed to disclose information about contributions, expenses and loans from his 2008 election campaign.
As part of his agreement with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, Belinky had to resign from office, remove his name from the Democratic primary ballot and surrender his law license. He also will now be expected to fully cooperate with authorities as they continue their investigation.
At this point, authorities will not say whether they are investigating anyone else or if Belinky could potentially face more counts.
The probe started late last year and involved searches of both the Probate Court offices and Belinky’s home in Boardman.
He is to be sentenced in about six weeks and could face probation or a prison sentence of up to 18 months.
Judge Ronald Suster, who is retired from Cuyahoga County, is hearing the case after being appointed by the Ohio Supreme Court. The prosecutor in the case is Dan Kasaris with the Ohio Attorney General’s office.
Belinky was at the court along with his lawyer, a visiting judge, and a representative from the Ohio Attorney General’s office. He resigned March 14 amid a probe of his dealings by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the FBI and the Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office.
In a letter submitted to Ohio Gov. John Kasich March 14, Belinky said, “Please be advised that the undersigned is the Judge of the Mahoning County Probate Court. I hereby submit my resignation as Judge of the Court effective this date.”
Belinky said he made the decision to resign in the best interest of his family and himself.
As of Thursday, no replacement for Belinky had been named.