Boardman attorney's Oakhill corruption conviction sent back to lower court
Nearly two years to the day since a Boardman attorney appealed his criminal conviction by a Cuyahoga County Judge, the case has been sent back to a lower court.
Nearly two years to the day since a Boardman attorney appealed his criminal conviction the appeals court has determined that prosecutors filed the case in the wrong county.
A three-judge panel of the 8th District Court of Appeals in Cuyahoga County ruled Thursday to uphold Attorney Martin Yavorcik's appeal after ordering that prosecutors failed to establish why the case should have been filed in Cuyahoga County.
Yavorcik was convicted in 2016 by a Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Judge in the Oakhill Corruption case and appealed his conviction on charges of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, conspiracy, bribery, tampering with records, and money laundering.
In a judgment issued Thursday by the Court of Appeals judges found that only three aspects of the entire Oakhill Corruption case pertained to Cuyahoga County: the fact that Oakhill codefendants Michael Sciortino and John McNally were represented by a Cleveland attorney, that the law firm then allegedly withheld information during a grand jury proceeding, and that a fax was sent from McNally in Mahoning County to the Cleveland law firm.
In a concurrent judgment, one judge said that the state's attempt to convict Yavorcik in Cuyahoga County was chilling.
A portion of that ruling states, "The state's position is concerning. At the least, it creates a chilling effect on criminal defendants seeking attorneys in other jurisdictions to represent them, at the risk of creating a venue in another county. But more importantly, taking the state's theory to its logical ends, any criminal defense attorney could be considered a co-conspirator by merely providing legal advice to a person who may have committed a crime."
In addition to the five years of community control, also known as probation, Cuyahoga County Judge Janet Burnside sentenced the former candidate for Mahoning County Prosecutor to one-year house arrest and ordered a fine of $1,000.
Yavorcik previously told the court that because he has placed his law license on inactive status as part of his sentence, he is relying on family members to provide for his needs.
The Ohio Supreme Court has since suspended Yavorcik from practicing law.
Lawyers who prosecuted Yavorcik responded to the appeal by arguing that Yavorcik was convicted of a first-degree felony and should serve some prison time instead of probation.
Investigators say Yavorcik ran for Mahoning County Prosecutor in 2008 under the assumption he would end the criminal investigation into the Oakhill matter. He also received improper benefits, including cash, according to prosecutors.
Special prosecutors from the attorney general's office now have 45 days to decide if they will appeal the decision to overturn the conviction to the Ohio Supreme Court.