YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Former Mahoning County Probate Judge Mark Belinky will have to spend the next two months under house arrest, but he will not have to go to prison.
Belinky returned to court Wednesday afternoon for sentencing. Two months ago, he pleaded guilty to a count of records tampering for withholding information about loans and debts he had incurred during his 2008 election campaign.
“It is not easy to see your life crashing down, but I accept the responsibility of my actions,” Belinky said.
Belinky told visiting Judge Ronald Suster he is ashamed and offered an apology.
“To my family and to the community for letting them down. A lot of people put their hopes in me that I would do a good job as judge and I tried to, but I made mistakes,” Belinky said.
Belinky could have faced up to 18 months in prison. His lawyer asked for a minimal sentence, saying his client had never been in legal trouble before this.
“There is no questions you have an excellent report here. What makes this a serious matter is that you were an elected official and in a sensitive position,” Judge Suster said.
In addition to the house arrest, he will have to pay a $2,500 fine and serve 200 hours of community service, as well as cooperate with the FBI and special prosecutors as they pursue other local corruption cases.
Belinky first took office in early 2007 when he was appointed by then-Governor Ted Strickland and ran the following year to retain his position. Belinky’s replacement, attorney Rob Rusu of Canfield, was sworn in Tuesday to fill out the remainder of Belinky’s unexpired term, which runs through February.
Rusu also will be on the November ballot as a non-party candidate, facing off against Democratic nominee Susan Marcuca.