Niles boss: Indicted employee a good worker

NILES — A water department employee facing arraignment Dec. 5 in connection to a political corruption case filed against the city’s former mayor is an “excellent worker” and will continue working as an operator, the city’s safety service director said.

Scott Shaffer, 51, Fairlawn Avenue, is facing two fifth-degree felony counts of theft in office in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court.

A number for Shaffer is not listed and court records do not list an attorney for him.

Shaffer is accused of selling city property and pocketing the money, according to the indictment handed up by a Trumbull County grand jury Tuesday. The indictment states the theft occurred between 2002 and January 2016.

“(Shaffer) is innocent until proven guilty,” Safety Service Director Jim DePasquale said. “And, he is an excellent worker.”

Per union contracts, Shaffer will continue on with his regular duties, DePasquale said.

Shaffer was included in a 56-count indictment against Ralph A. Infante, who presided over the city for 24 years while operating an illegal gambling house out of his McKinley Heights business, the 42-page documents states.

Infante also is accused of operating a network of corrupt activity, theft in office, tampering with records, money laundering, bribery and several other charges.

Visiting Judge Patricia Cosgrove, retired from Summit County, is presiding over the 1 p.m Dec. 5 arraignment in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court, court records state.

Ralph Infante, 61, and his wife, Judy Infante, 67, are scheduled to be arraigned at the same time, court records state. An attorney is not listed for either in court records.

Judy Infante is facing 11 charges, accused in the indictment of tampering with records when she filed federal and Niles tax returns, theft and engaging in a pattern of criminal activity.

While Ralph Infante’s charges could net him 104 years in prison, Judy Infante is facing 39 years and Shaffer is facing six.

Shaffer was hired in 2002 and is paid $18.91 an hour, according to city auditor records.

A spokesman for the Ohio Attorney General’s Office said the investigation, which was opened by the Ohio Auditor’s Office in 2014, will continue until the case is resolved in court.

DePasquale said Tuesday was a “sad, dark day for Niles.”