Mug shot taken of former Judge Mark Belinky - 21 News Now, More Local News for Youngstown, Ohio -

Mug shot taken of former Judge Mark Belinky

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - He once presided over Mahoning County Probate Court.  But on Thursday, former Judge Mark Belinky found himself in the county jail posing for a mug shot.

Earlier that afternoon in Common Pleas Court, Belinky first pleaded not guilty, then changed his plea to guilty of a charge filed in connection with an investigation into his political campaigns.

Belinky appeared before a visiting judge to answer to a bill of information charging him with tampering with records.

A bill of information is usually filed when a defendant agrees to forego the grand jury indictment process.

In most cases, defendants plead guilty to a bill of information, but Belinky first entered a plea of not guilty.

But after some discussion in the courtroom, the former judge changed his plea to guilty.

According to the bill of information, Belinky failed to disclose 2008 campaign contributions, expenditures and loans in amounts ranging from $7,500 to $150,000.  The court document does not list a specific amount.

The crime is a fourth degree felony.

"As part of the plea agreement, the defendant did agree to and did resign from the probate court bench, did agree to and did surrender his license to practice law, and will no longer practice law again," said Atty. Dan Kasaris, Special Prosecutor.

Belinky was released after booking on a $2,500 bond.  He'll be sentenced after a pre-sentence investigation, but the special prosecutor is recommending that the former judge be placed on probation.

In February, agents from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and sheriff's deputies searched Belinky's courthouse office and his Boardman 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.

Belinky has since resigned from the bench, and the Ohio Supreme Court has appointed an interim judge until Governor John Kasich can select someone to complete Belinky's unexpired term

Stay with 21 News and wfmj.com for more information about this developing story.

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