Former Niles mayor appears in court on 56 charges

Ralph Infante is accused of accepting bribes and operating an illegal gambling business while he was mayor of Niles

Former Niles mayor, Ralph Infante, pleaded not guilty to 56 counts.

WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – Former Niles mayor, Ralph Infante, pleaded not guilty Monday to 56 charges, including bribery, theft in office and misuse of city property.

He was indicted by a Trumbull County grand jury last month on the charges accusing him of accepting bribes and operating an illegal gambling business from ITAM 39, which he owns.

The court papers have details from investigators, saying that Infante accepted a $500 bribe in 1993 to give someone a job with the city. They claim that he gave a job to someone whose friend did work on Infante’s property.

The accusations also include being bribed with tickets to the 2007 NCAA National Championship Game. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine says the indictment alleges that Infante got nearly $200,000 in unreported cash, income and gifts during his time in office.

Judy Infante and Scott Shaffer are charged along with former Niles mayor Ralph Infante.
Judy Infante, Scott Shaffer

Agents say they found betting boards and gambling slips during a raid of his home and business in February.

The grand jury also indicted Infante’s wife, Judy, for tampering with evidence and a Niles City Water employee, Scott Shaffer, for theft in office. Neither spoke during their arraignments.

The three defendants were each given a personal recognizance bond of $100,000 and ordered to give up their passports. They were also banned from talking to the media about the case.

All of them wore handcuffs as they walked across the street to be booked at the Trumbull County Jail. They won’t be spending any time behind bars unless they refuse to follow the judge’s orders.

They will see the evidence against them by January 2, with their trial set to begin April 24. The judge says she expects motions from the defendants, so they may not be tried together.

If Infante is guilty of everything against him, he could be sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison.

Infante was mayor from 1992 to this past January.

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