Former Mahoning County judge says he is ashamed - 21 News Now, More Local News for Youngstown, Ohio -

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Former Mahoning County judge says he is ashamed

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio -

Former Mahoning County Probate Court Judge Mark Belinky faced a judge Wednesday afternoon for sentencing on a charge of tampering with records.

Retired Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Judge Ronald Suster sentenced Belinky to sixty days house arrest, 200 hours of community service, ordered him to pay a $2,500 fine, and placed him on probation for two years.

Judge Suster told Belinky that if he violates terms of his probation, he faces a possible sentence of six to 18 months in prison.

Investigators say Belinky failed to disclose 2008 political campaign contributions, expenditures and loans in amounts ranging from $7,500 to $150,000. The court document does not list a specific amount.

In the courtroom, Belinky apologized to his family, members of the community and the court.

"Because I am so ashamed of what has happened to me. All I wanted to do is be a good judge," said Belinky.

The former judge said he is ashamed of what he did, but accepts the responsibility, pointing out that he has cooperated with law enforcement conducting the investigation.

"And, had there not been such a high level of cooperation, the plea would not be have been a felony of the fourth degree," said Daniel Kasaris, Ohio Senior Assistant Attorney General.

Kasaris told the judge in order to combat public corruption or any crime, the government needs people who are involved to assist, so it can weed out all who are involved.

"He has to testify truthfully if called upon to testify, he had to resign his position as a judge, he had to surrender his license which he did," said Kasaris.

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 he has surrendered his law license.


 

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