Former judge gets house arrest

YOUNGSTOWN – Former Mahoning County Probate Court Judge Mark Belinky was sentenced Wednesday to two months house arrest. Belinky’s sentence also includes a $2,500 fine, 200 hours of community service and two years probation.

Belinky, 61, admitted in court May 8 that he hid between $7,500 and $150,000 in campaign contributions, expenditures and loans from campaign finance reports in 2008, the year he was elected to the bench. He resigned on March 14 and attorney Robert Rusu of Canfield was sworn in as his replacement July 8.

According to Tribune Chronicle news partner WYTV 33 News, Belinky apologized to the court and said that he let a lot of people down.

The case against Belinky, led by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, or BCI, became public Feb. 7 when law enforcement officers searched Belinky’s home in Boardman and probate court chambers inside the Mahoning County Courthouse. Among the items taken were campaign finance reports, personal financial documents, computers and notes presumably related to the Oakhill Renaissance Center corruption investigation.

In May, Youngstown Mayor John McNally, Mahoning County Auditor Michael Sciortino and attorney Martin Yavorcik were indicted on federal corruption charges related to the purchase of the Oakhill Renaissance Center.

The are accused of conspiring with others, as yet unnamed, to attempt to block the 2006 purchase of Oakhill as a new home for county offices housed at the Garland Plaza, owned by the Cafaro Co.

Belinky was appointed to the court in 2007 and won election in 2008 by beating attorneys James Lanzo and Susan Maruca in the Democratic primary and in the general election, Scott Hunter, who is now judge of Mahoning County Court in Canfield.