A former Mahoning County Court judge was sentenced Thursday for stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from a dead client, with two animal charity organizations that fell victim to the theft. 

Diane Vettori-Caraballo, 50, of Youngstown, was convicted of taking $328,000 in cash that was being stored in the home of one of her private law practice clients Dolores Falgiani, who died in 2016.

A federal judge sentenced her to 30 months in prison and three years of supervised release.

Vettori-Caraballo also owes $328,000 in restitution. 

She plead guilty previously to one count of mail fraud, one count of structuring cash deposits and one count of making false statements to law enforcement 

Her husband, Ismael Caraballo, pleaded guilty to a tax count earlier this year.

She was suspended from the bench in October while she was being investigated. 

That $328,000 is more than twice the $140,000 that Vettori-Caraballo took a Mahoning County Probate Court determined. That probate court decision is under appeal by Vettori-Caraballo.

The government argued that the federal court should not be bound by the county court finding when it came to determining the amount for the purposes of sentencing and restitution.


Vettori-Caraballo, while still a judge in Mahoning County Court in Sebring, also provided estate planning services to Falgiani's brother, Robert Sampson, including drafting his will.

On Nov. 20, 2015, Vettori-Caraballo filed an application in Mahoning County Probate Court to administer Sampson’s estate. The application stated Sampson died without a will.

The probate court, unaware of Sampson’s will, appointed Falgiani as the administrator three days later, according to the indictment.

Sampson died in 2015, and his closest living relative was Falgiani.

Vettori-Caraballo prepared Falgiani's will on Nov. 3, 2015. The will made 16 specific bequests to relatives and friends and bequeathed the rest of the estate to Animal Charity Human Society of Boardman and the Angels for Animal Charity in Canfield, according to the indictment.

After Falgiani was found dead in her home on March 10, 2016, Vettori-Caraballo filed an application in Mahoning County Probate Court to probate Falgiani’s estate.

On May 2, Vettori-Caraballo reported finding cash in Falgiani's home and depositing the $20,000 into the estate.

Vettori-Caraballo filed a notice of newly discovered assets with the court on several subsequent occasions in 2016 and 2017. Each time, prosecutors say she failed to disclose the cash she had stolen. 

Vettori-Caraballo was elected to become the Sebring Court Judge in Mahoning County Court #3 in 2002, and she was reelected in 2006 and 2012.