YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – A Mahoning County Judge says a tape recording can be used in the corruption trial of former Youngstown Mayor Chuck Sammarone.
Sammarone faces more than a dozen counts, including bribery and engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity. He’s accused of of taking bribes in exchange for steering contracts to a friend.
He was indicted along with Valley developer Dominic Marchionda and former city Finance Director Dave Bozanich eighteen months ago.
However, Sammarone’s case was split off from the others, and that’s serving as part of his defense.
Friday morning, Judge Maureen Sweeney ruled a recording made by then-Democratic party Chair Dave Betras concerning a local judge’s race can be used as evidence.
Sammarone’s lawyer had argued the tape should be excluded.
“I alleged that, you know, there’s a tacit factual acknowledgement that Mr. Sammarone was not in this alleged criminal enterprise,” said Attorney John Shultz, Sammarone’s lawyer.
Part of the state’s bribery case involves a conversation secretly recorded by then-Democrat Party Chair Dave Betras, which was turned over to the FBI.
While that tape could could now be heard at trial, prosecutors are also expected to call businessman Ray Briya who’s admitted to paying thousands of dollars to Sammarone in exchange for the former mayor using his office to steer projects to Briya’s firm.
While Shultz says his client may be a victim of “guilt-by-association,” he now has to prepare his defense.
“All I know is, three weeks Monday, we’re scheduled for a trial,” Shultz said.
Sammarone is set for trial next month.