Mahoning County Probate Judge Mark Belinky responds - 21 News Now, More Local News for Youngstown, Ohio -

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Mahoning County Probate Judge Mark Belinky responds after his resignation

Posted: Updated:
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - Mahoning County Probate Judge Mark Belinky has resigned from the bench amid an investigation into suspected corruption.
 
In letters dated March 14, Belinky wrote:
 
Please be advised that the undersigned is the Judge of the Mahoning County Probate Court. I hear by submit my resignation as Judge of the Court effective this date.
 
Very truly yours,
Judge Mark Belinky
 
The letters were addressed to Ohio Governor John Kasich and Chief Justice of  the Ohio Supreme Court, Maureen O'Connor.
 
21 News Reporter Michelle Nicks spoke with Judge Belinky after he issued his resignation.
 
She reports Belinky did return her phone call and answered some of her questions about his resignation.
 
Belinky said "I'm trying to approach my situation in the best interest of my family and myself. I am concerned about my staff and I am concerned about the court. I have spent 35 years working in Probate Court or being the judge of the court. It takes tremendous experience to run it. I thank the thousands of people who allowed me to help them there. It was an honor. The public overwhelmingly elected me to be the judge. I took that very seriously. I personally was proud to greet and wait on the public as they came to my office."

Belinky told Michelle Nicks that he will retain his law license for now and he's focused on supporting his family and getting through this.

He would not discuss the details of the Attorney General's investigation at this time, on the advice of his attorney.

There has been no indication that Belinky has been charged with any crime. 

Last month agents from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and sheriff's deputies searched Belinky's courthouse office and his home.

According to a search warrant, investigators were looking for bank records, campaign finance reports, lists of donations and donors, ledgers, and any documentation, computers electronic storage devices, and electronic media.

Court documents said that authorities were seeking evidence in criminal offenses including, engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, tampering with records, bribery, money laundering, theft and theft in office.

Authorities confiscated dozens of items from Belinky's office, including campaign records, a photo copy of campaign checks from 2004, campaign reports from the primary and general elections of 2008, returned campaign post cards and campaign events from 2008, campaign petitions and filing documents from 2014, and information about the location of campaign signs.

Judge Belinky had been running for re-election.

Mahoning County Democratic Party Chairman David Betras issued a statement late Friday.

It reads:

I like most of you, were shocked when I heard that Judge Mark Belinky resigned. As I said when news about (the) investigation broke, I have faith in the BCI, the FBI, and the judicial system, which has clearly worked its course. I think we as a community should all now focus on the future of the Probate court and our community.

David Betras, Chairman Mahoning County Democratic Party

It will fall upon the Ohio Supreme Court to appoint a temporary Probate Judge for Mahoning County.

The Governor is expected to select someone to finish Belinky's term, which expires in January, 2015.

Mahoning County Republican Party Chairman Mark Munroe will form a screening committee and develop a list of candidates from which the Governor will choose.

Belinky was actually appointed as Probate Court Judge in 2007 by Governor Ted Strickland to serve out retired Judge Tim Maloney's term.

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