YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – A Youngstown developer and the city’s former finance director learned their sentences Thursday in a corruption case.
Developer Dominic Marchionda pleaded guilty last month to four counts of tampering with records as part of a plea deal. Prosecutors say he submitted phony billing records for work done on the Erie Terminal and Flats on Wick projects.
With several dozen family members and friends filling the back of the courtroom, the special prosecutor leading the case against Marchionda told the judge there’s a right way and a wrong way to handle government funds for economic development.
“The defendant did it the wrong way,” said Special Prosecutor Dan Kasaris.
Prosecutors said Marchionda’s sentence needs to send a message.
“We’re asking you to be part of the solution and consistent with the principles of sentencing. Sentence the defendant to prison,” Kasaris said.
Judge Maureen Sweeney, who rarely comments on cases, said Marchionda let the community down, saying this shouldn’t happen again. The judge did not believe Marchionda needs to be imprisoned, however, giving him five years of probation and 250 hours of community service — each of those years in an outreach program teaching others how to improve the community.
Choking back tears, Marchionda told the judge his goal was always to redevelop Youngstown, and he apologized to the court and community.
“I realize now that I relied on others when I should not have, and I cut corners when I should not have,” Marchionda said. “This is not the man I want to be remembered as.”
Judge Sweeney said the city’s former finance director, David Bozanich, “should be ashamed of himself.” She sentenced him to one year in prison and a $5,000 fine, saying he abused the public’s trust.
He was led away in handcuffs after the sentencing.
Bozanich had pleaded guilty to unlawful compensation to a public official, acceptance of a bribe and tampering with records.
In October 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.
Court documents say the $1.2 million was transferred to Marchionda’s business account from the City of Youngstown, then $1 million of that money was given back to Youngstown to purchase the old fire station. They also detailed the other expenditures made from his business accounts.
Bozanich, the city’s finance director until December 2017, was accused of receiving benefits in return for securing funding for economic development projects, including Marchionda’s.
The indictment claimed 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.
Marchionda is the president of Rubino Construction, Inc. The entity pleaded guilty to one count of unauthorized use of property.
Marchionda is also a member of U.S. Campus Suites LLC. The company pleaded guilty to one count of receiving stolen property.
As a condition of the plea agreement, Marchionda must remove himself from management responsibilities at Rubino Construction, Inc., Wick Properties LLC, Erie Terminal Place LLC and the NYO Property Group.
Additionally, U.S. Campus Suites LLC and Rubino Construction Inc. were fined – the former $5,000 and the latter $500 – for receiving stolen property.
Marchionda’s company owns several buildings downtown, including Wick Tower and Realty Tower. Last year, NYO Property Group put the Flats at Wick and Erie Terminal Building up for sale.
Additionally, Marchionda agreed to pay $25,000 at the time of sentencing for the cost of prosecution.
Thursday, Judge Sweeney also sentenced businessman Ray Briya, who also pleaded guilty to charges in the case. He was accused of taking money from MS Consultants to bribe Bozanich and former Mayor Charles Sammarone.
The judge gave him three years of probation with house arrest for six months. She also ordered him to pay a $5,000 fine.
Sammarone also faced charges and was tried separately, but almost all of the charges were wiped clean as part of a plea deal.
He received a five-year sentence of probation for failing to include rental income from a condo he owns in Florida on forms officeholders are required to fill out.
Sammarone did not plead guilty to bribery and his lawyer maintained he was not involved with Marchionda or Bozanich.
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