Prosecutor and challenger spar over procedural rules in Mahoning County

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The issue started as a bar fight in 2006 and aggravated assault case against Dominic Modarelli

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The fighting in the Mahoning County prosecutor’s race probably won’t end until Election Day. The challenger believes he uncovered a mistake by the incumbent.

The issue started as a bar fight in 2006 and aggravated assault case against Dominic Modarelli.

Court records show the prosecutor acknowledged a conflict of interest and stayed away from handling the case, but Marty Desmond, who is challenging Mahoning County Prosecutor Paul Gains, alleges that changed in 2018, when the defendant filed a motion to withdraw his guilty plea.

“Paul Gains should have, once again, asked for an independent prosecutor but he did not. He gave his office and his prosecutor the authority to take care of this case,” Desmond said.

Desmond believes that conflict still existed. But when asked, Paul Gains produced the court motion where the prosecutor’s office opposed the withdrawing of the guilty plea, and the court transcript shows the judge was well aware of the issue.

“Frankly, I am pretty tough on vacating pleas. That’s what Judge Krichbaum said, and if Judge Krichbaum had thought there was anything improper about this, you know that Judge Krichbaum would’ve brought it to our attention,” Gains said.

Modarelli’s original lawyer in 2007 did not inform him that he couldn’t get the case expunged after a guilty plea. In 2018, Judge Krichbaum allowed him to withdraw the guilty plea and Modarelli pleaded guilty to menacing.

“This is not a misdemeanor offense by any stretch of the imagination. This is felonious behavior,” Desmond said.

The victim told the court he did not oppose the defendant’s plea withdrawal and didn’t want to be at the hearing. The defendant served 5-years on probation after the original conviction, and the court did not impose any new penalty.

“It’s just not misconduct, but he sees crimes where none exist,” Gains said.

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