Prosecutor reveals name of law firm in Oakhill case - News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio


Prosecutor reveals name of law firm in Oakhill case

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Court documents reveal the name of one of two previously unidentified law firms mentioned in a political corruption indictment filed against two local elected officials and an attorney.

A 67 page indictment handed up by a Cuyahoga County grand jury in May, accuses Youngstown Mayor John McNally, Mahoning County Auditor Mike Sciortino and Attorney Martin Yavorcik of scheming to cover up earlier alleged attempts to prevent Mahoning County commissioners from moving some county offices from the Garland Plaza on Youngstown's east side, into what is now the Oakhill Renaissance Place.

A portion of the indictment alleges that when McNally was still a Mahoning County Commissioner, he lied under oath by denying that he gave anyone a copy of the county's offer to purchase the former South Side Hospital, which later became Oakhill Renaissance Place.

The indictment also claims that a copy of the county's confidential offer was faxed from McNally's law office to a law firm in Cuyahoga County.

The original indictment identified that Cuyahoga County law firm only as “Law Firm 2”. However evidence turned over to defense attorneys this week includes what the prosecution characterizes as a “fax of confidential offer from McNally to Ulmer and Berne”.

Ulmer and Berne is a law firm based in Cleveland. An attorney from Ulmer and Berne represented the Cafaro owned company that filed a lawsuit over breach of contract when Mahoning County moved the Jobs and Family Services department from the Garland Plaza.

Neither “Law Firm 1” nor “Law Firm 2”, nor several unidentified attorneys referred to in the indictment have been charged in the case.

The Ulmer and Berne fax is included in what the prosecution says is 100 gigabytes of evidence turned over at the request of defense attorneys as part of a process known as discovery, which requires prosecutors to reveal evidence that may be used against defendants in a trial.

In a statement issued by Alexis Dankovich, director of marketing, Ulmer & Berne LLP, “Client confidentiality restricts our firm's ability to fully comment about this matter. Here is the information we can share. At no time did any Ulmer & Berne lawyer act improperly in its representation of the Ohio Valley Mall Company. Although it has been suggested that an offer to purchase Oakhill Renaissance Place was faxed to Ulmer & Berne and that such offer was confidential, that is simply inaccurate. The offer had in fact already been presented to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Youngstown and was a public record well before it was received by Ulmer & Berne. It had also been publicly described in The Youngstown Business Journal before the fax was sent. An offer is not confidential when it has already been made a public record and described in a newspaper article.”

In addition to the McNally fax, the evidence submitted to the court includes 576 hours of FBI recordings from two confidential sources recorded during a time period spanning from 2005 to 2010.

The data provided to defendants also includes consensual phone calls from a third confidential source, audio clips from defendant Martin Yavorcik, bank records, background records, bankruptcy records, election records, court depositions, tax records, a folder identified as “incident of corrupt activity”, as well as records provided by the Cafaro Company, Ulmer and Berne, and other law firms.

The prosecuting attorney also filed a motion this week asking the judge to deny a defense request to allow them to review transcripts of the grand jury process that led to the indictments.

The motion argues that grand jury proceedings are kept secret for several reasons, including the need to prevent the parties from unfairly influencing the grand jurors, protecting against witness tampering and encouraging persons with knowledge of criminal activity to come forward voluntarily without fear of reprisal by the accused.

Judge Janet Burnside has yet to hold hearings or rule on those motions.


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