Oakhill defendants ask about deals with witnesses - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

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Oakhill defendants ask about deals with witnesses

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CLEVELAND, Ohio -

With a trial date in the Oakhill corruption case looming just over three weeks away, two defendants want to know if prosecutors made deals with some of the witnesses to provide testimony in the case.

The motion was filed by attorneys for Youngstown Mayor John McNally and former Mahoning County Auditor Michael Sciortino, who, along with Youngstown Attorney Martin Yavorcik, face a total of 53 criminal charges.

Investigators claim the three tried to cover up efforts to stop Mahoning County Commissioners from moving some county offices out of rental property owned by the Cafaro family and into a building now known as Oakhill Renaissance Place.

Defense attorneys say they believe prosecutors may have promised witnesses special consideration when it comes to possible prosecutions or investigations that could be brought against those witnesses.

The motion asks for any information about plea arrangements made with witnesses that includes reduction of charges, deferred sentencing, favorable sentencing recommendations and modification of bail.

Attorneys are specifically asking for information about former Mahoning County Jobs and Family Services Director John Zachariah; former Mahoning County Treasurer and Democratic Party Chair Lisa Antonini; a witness known as Confidential Human Source 1; former State Representative Ronald Gerberry; former Mahoning County Treasurer John Reardon; former Mahoning County Democratic Party Chairman Michael Morley; former Mahoning County Board of Elections employee Michael Kurt Welsh; and J.J. Cafaro, who is the brother of Anthony Cafaro.

Zachariah was implicated in the original Oakhill investigation, but the statute of limitations have since expired.

Lisa Antonini served five months in federal prison for failing to disclose a $3,000 cash gift on a disclosure form from the Ohio Ethics Commission.

The filing was accompanied by a second motion asking a judge to hold a hearing on what the defense contends is an effort to keep prosecutors from withholding evidence they intend to use during the trial.

The motion claims that attorneys are not trying to delay the scheduled Feb. 29 start of the trial.

“It is instead an effort to bar the government from using at trial items in the government's possession for months or years, but which have been withheld until the 23rd hour,” write Attorneys Lynn Maro and John Juhasz in the motion.

The motion says the trial should go forward as scheduled, but without evidence that defense attorneys say the prosecution has known about for years.

The prosecution has not filed responses to the two motions.

Another development in the case comes from the third defendant Martin Yavorcik, who is asking to represent himself in the case.

Yavorcik's attorney Mark Lavelle has filed request asking the court to allow him to withdraw from the case so Yavorcik can take over.

Yavorcik, who has been practicing law since 1999, has filed a notice of appearance saying has reviewed the evidence and is prepared to go forward with the trial as scheduled.

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