Former Youngstown mayor, ex-finance director indicted on criminal charges

Local News

Former Finance Director David Bozanich and former Youngstown Mayor Charles Sammarone have been indicted by a Mahoning County grand jury in the case against developer Dominic Marchionda.

“We’re talking engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, bribery and a number of other counts,” Ohio Auditor Dave Yost said.

The men, along with Rubino Construction, NYO Property Group and other organizations, face over 100 criminal charges.

“This investigation has been going on for actually a couple of years,” Yost said. “This is the most recent development. I can’t go into detail, but I can tell you we’re not done yet.”

Properties such as Erie Terminal Place and Wick Properties, LLC are also listed in the 78-page indictment, which came out on Thursday.

Charles Sammarone, 75, was indicted on the following charges:

  • One count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, a felony of the first degree
  • Nine counts of bribery, felonies of the third degree
  • Three counts of tampering with records, felonies of the third degree
  • One count of falsification, a misdemeanor of the first degree

David Bozanich, 61, was indicted on the following charges:

  • One count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, a felony of the first degree
  • Two counts of aggravated theft, felonies of the first degree
  • 15 counts of bribery, felonies of the third degree
  • One count of obstructing justice, a felony of the fifth degree

“The indictment alleges that as mayor, Mr. Sammarone elicited and received recurring cash payments from a vendor in exchange for steering projects to the company,” said Dan Tierney, spokesperson for the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. “Mr. Bozanich, it is alleged, received benefits from several individuals and in return, worked to assist in securing public funding from the City of Youngstown for various economic development projects.”

Sammarone served as mayor of Youngstown from 2011 to 2013.

The indictment claims he failed to mention on required ethics disclosure forms that he received gifts over $75, bribe money from an employee of a local business and rental income from owning a condo in Florida.

Bozanich, the city’s former finance director until December of 2017, is accused of receiving benefits in return for securing funding for economic development projects, including Marchionda’s.

The indictment claims that on multiple occasions over several years, Bozanich got free entry to golf outings — amounting in the hundreds of dollars — as part of a bribe. Investigators say Bozanich paid back the fees to cover it up, but was then reimbursed.

The latest indictment also includes new charges against Marchionda, including theft pertaining to insurance funds for the Legal Arts building and money laundering for laundering the stolen insurance funds related to the Legal Arts building.

It claims Marchionda also lied to Key Bank. Investigators say he tried to trick the bank into giving him a $500,000 loan based on false information.

In October of 2017, Marchionda was indicted on more than 100 criminal charges, including bribery, theft, tampering with records and fraud.

Investigators say he misused city water fund money for his development projects.

Related coverage: Court documents detail investigation into Youngstown developer

Marchionda owns several buildings downtown, including Erie Terminal Place. He also helped develop the new DoubleTree Hotel.

“These indictments should make clear to the people of the Mahoning Valley that our investigators and forensic auditors will not relent until we’ve taken down the last crook standing. The abuses we’ve uncovered are maddening, especially for an area of our state that has been challenged economically,” Yost said. “Our work here is not complete and we will continue to partner with Attorney General DeWine and the Mahoning County sheriff and prosecutor in this investigation until we’ve rooted out all of the corruption in the Valley.”

The Attorney General’s Office is serving as a special assistant prosecutor with Mahoning County in the case.

“The people of Youngstown deserve to have confidence in their elected officials but the indictments announced today show a repeated pattern of bribery and corrupt activity,” Attorney General Mike DeWine said.

Also listed in Thursday’s indictment were Rubino Construction, Inc., NYO Property Group, MCMR Enterprises, LLC, Legal Arts Properties, LLC., U.S. Campus Suites, LLC; Erie Terminal Place, LLC; Wick Properties, LLC; Villa Di Tuscany, LLC; Management Parking, LLC, Youngstown First and National Holdings.

“Nobody is above the law,” Yost said. “Everybody is accountable and when people act in ways that are corrupt, they’ll have to answer for it.”

Youngstown residents we talked to said they are not surprised by the developments.

“Money talks, man, that’s all it is,” Brian Howard said. “It ain’t no different in the higher-ups.”

“I’m surprised someone like the mayor did it but some of the things he’s been about, I kind of expected that,” Lawrence Towns said.

We went to Sammarone’s home Thursday night. He said he has no comment.

Marchionda and Bozanich haven’t returned our calls.

We also reached out to current Youngstown Mayor Tito Brown, who was the president of council when Sammarone was mayor. He said he wants to talk with his lawyers before making a comment.

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