Mahoning County prosecutor testifies in Oakhill corruption case

Mahoning County Prosecutor Paul Gains is the latest Youngstown official to take the stand

Paul Gains

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WKBN) – The trial against Youngstown attorney Martin Yavorcik is now in its second week inside a Cleveland courtroom.

Mahoning County Prosecutor Paul Gains is the latest Youngstown official to take the stand. Yavorcik traded jabs with the prosecutor during his testimony, and it was obvious the relationship between the two men was contentious.

Gains explained on the stand the process that led him to contact the Ohio Ethics Commission in October 2007 concerning the actions of then-Commissioner John McNally, former Mahoning County Auditor Mike Sciortino and others over the purchase of Oakhill Renaissance Place. He addressed McNally sending confidential information to lawyers for the Cafaro Company.

“The reason that the letters were confidential is because we didn’t want to end up in a bidding war. We don’t want this other bidder to have information that he or she shouldn’t have,” Gains said.

Yavrocik is the final defendant in the corruption case that also charged McNally and Sciortino with conspiring to prevent the purchase of Oakhill Renaissance Place and working to keep some county offices in the Cafaro-owned McGuffey Mall.

McNally and Sciortino agreed to plea deals in the case earlier this month.

Yavorcik was the only one of the three defendants not to take a plea deal, and he is representing himself in court. He faces 11 charges, including bribery.

Gains also testified that Yavorcik “tried to profit” from his position as an assistant Youngstown city prosecutor and that he refused to hire him in the Mahoning County Prosecutor’s office.

“Instead of going up the ladder and telling your boss, ‘We are not arraigning people properly,’ you decided to try and profit from it, and that, in my opinion, was unethical and a breach of the trust and the faith the City of Youngstown placed in you when they hired you as assistant prosecutor,” Gains said.

Yavorcik is accused of taking bribes from the Cafaros in exchange for derailing the investigation if he could have defeated Gains as prosecutor. But in court, Yavorcik tried to show politics had played a role in the case.

“You have no opponent this time, correct?” Yavorcik asked Gains.

“That’s correct,” Gains responded.

“And I’m under indictment, right?” Yavorcik questioned.

“Yes,” Gains responded.

Along with Gains, a Mahoning County sheriff’s deputy testified Monday, as well as former Mahoning County treasurer Lisa Antonini, who did not want to be recorded.

Antonino pleaded guilty in June 2011 to a bill of information that charged her with accepting $3,000 for a Youngstown businessman in exchange for supporting his interests and taking “official action on his behalf if the opportunities arose,” according to the bill.

Prosecutors declined to name the businessman outright. The charges, however, say the businessman gave her the $3,000 gift on Jan. 16, 2008, and, for the same day a $200 contribution was listed on Antonini’s campaign finance report.

A search of Antonini’s campaign finance report shows a $200 contribution from Anthony M. Cafaro Sr., who was then the president of the Cafaro Co.

Antonini resigned May 16, 2011 hours after the charges were filed. She agreed to assist federal and state investigators in an unnamed case in exchange for a less harsh sentence.

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