Not guilty: Officials answer to corruption charges

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WKBN) – The mayor of Youngstown, the Mahoning County auditor, and a local attorney appeared before a judge Thursday in Cuyahoga County Court on corruption charges.

Youngstown Mayor John McNally, Auditor Michael Sciortino, and attorney Marty Yavorcik pleaded not guilty at a 9 a.m. arraignment to 68 felony charges surrounding the sale of Oakhill Renaissance Place.

Bond was set at $15,000 for all three and they are not permitted to travel out of the state. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for June 5.

The 67-page indictment against McNally, Sciortino and Yavorcik alleges a pattern of corrupt activity including perjury, bribery and money laundering.

McNally was a county commissioner at the time Oakhill was purchased. He was against moving county offices from the Cafaro-owned Garland Plaza to Oakhill Renaissance Place.

McNally and Sciortino were also named in a 2010 indictment by a Mahoning County grand jury on similar charges surrounding the sale. The case was dismissed because prosecutors said they could not obtain tape recordings from the FBI that were critical evidence in the case.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine took another look at the investigation and decided to file charges in Cuyahoga County even though much of the alleged activity occurred in Mahoning and Trumbull counties.

Attorney Lynn Maro, representing McNally, said her client has been scrutinized and harassed over the charges for years. She said McNally has always maintained his innocence and did nothing wrong during the sale and purchase of Oakhill Renaissance Place.

“From my perspective, this case is really a test for our justice system,” said Maro. “And if works the way it is supposed to, there will be an acquittal at the end of this.”

Members of the Cafaro mall development family who were charged in 2010 were left out of the new indictment.

“I’m not going to speculate why they did that. I find that odd,” said Maro.

“I think they had to come up with a new theory or strategy and obviously, they believed that there was enough ties to Cuyahoga County to bring it here,” said Yavorcik’s attorney, Jennifer Scott.

While both McNally and Sciortino left without comment, Yavorcik insists he’s done nothing wrong.

“I believe in the justice system. I want a trial. I want a jury of my peers,” said Yavorcik. “I want all the facts to come out because we have only seen one half of this. This is what they are alleging. It is not true.”

Yavorcik’s lawyer said having to going through this case for the second time in four years is tough to take.

“It was indicted and dismissed in Mahoning County, where all the primary acts took place, investigated by other law enforcement officials and now we’re in Cuyahoga County. So, they’re just frustrated with the length of the process and having to live through this multiple times,” Scott said.

Mug shots were taken of all three men, and they were fingerprinted before heading home from Cleveland.

The Ohio Supreme Court will convene a three-judge panel in the coming weeks to determine if Sciortino should be removed from office as outlined in the Ohio Revised Code. The same rule does not apply to McNally since he was a commissioner when the alleged acts occurred and now holds a different political office.

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