Mahoning County judge rejects plea deal in case accusing her of - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Mahoning County judge rejects plea deal in case accusing her of stealing from dead client

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CLEVELAND, Ohio -

A suspended Mahoning County judge turned down a plea deal Monday afternoon in federal court in Cleveland. 

In January, federal prosecutors charged Sebring Court Judge Diane Vettori-Caraballo with mail fraud, making a false statement, and structuring financial statements to avoid reporting them.

Vettori had been scheduled to appear for a "change of plea" hearing Monday but declined the offer prosecutors were proposing. 

They now have 90 days to seek a criminal indictment against Vettori-Caraballo. She had originally been charged in a criminal information, which bypasses the grand jury process. 

Investigators claim that in her capacity as a private attorney, Vettori-Caraballo stole cash from two shoeboxes from a dead client's home.

The FBI says the crime happened in early 2016 and Vettori-Caraballo allegedly stole between $96,200 and $328,000.

It's money the deceased woman intended for the charities Angels for Animals and Animal Charity.

At one point Vettori-Caraballo was expected to plead guilty in the case.

The Mahoning County Bar Association even issued a statement saying they expected the judge to resign.

She has done neither and told 21 News that she did not do the crimes she is accused of committing.

The Ohio Supreme Court has suspended her from hearing cases on the bench until the federal case is concluded.

Vettori-Caraballo has hired two of the Valley's most prominent defense attorneys to represent her, Gerald Ingram and John Juhasz, Jr.

Vettori-Caraballo, who presided over the Sebring Court since 2002, has already pleaded “not guilty” to the charges.

During her last court appearance, Assistant U.S. Attorney Dan McDonough told the court that he expected a federal grand jury to issue an indictment with more charges.

As of this morning, federal court records show no additional charges.

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