Ex-Niles Mayor Ralph Infante’s trial reset for Aug. 14
WARREN — A visiting judge has set a new trial date for the former Niles mayor and two others charged in a political corruption scheme.
At a pre-trial hearing in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court Monday, lawyers representing former Mayor Ralph Infante, his wife, Judy, and city employee Scott Shaffer asked visiting Judge Patricia Cosgrove to continue the case because of a wave of new evidence that surfaced, moving the trial date that was originally scheduled for April 24..
Leigh Bayer, associate assistant attorney general of Ohio, told the judge she has recently come across new evidence, but not as large of the “voluminous” amount that came with last fall’s 58-count direct presentment to the grand jury.
The lawyers met with the judge privately in chambers prior to Monday’s hearing.
Cosgrove, a retired Summit County judge, complied with the defense’s request, setting a new trial date for 9 a.m. Aug. 14. She set another pre-trial proceeding for Aug. 1 and set a status conference for 11 a.m. April 24.
An order Cosgrove issued bars those involved from speaking about the case.
Infante, 61, who was represented by attorney John Juhasz, was named on 56 counts, alleging political corruption and implicating him as the ringleader of an illegal gambling operation out of the Italian American War Veterans Post 39 he and his wife owned in McKinley Heights.
Last December, the former mayor, who served from 1992 through 2015, pleaded not guilty to the charges, which included theft in office, bribery, tampering with records, obstruction of justice and gambling.
His wife, Judy Infante, and city employee Scott Shaffer also both pleaded not guilty.
Each of the three defendants have been free on $100,000 personal recognizance bonds and ordered to surrender their passports and get court permission to leave the state.
Judy Infante, 67,who is facing 11 charges, including filing fraudulent federal and city income tax returns and failing to report gambling income or gifted money, is being represented by attorney Louis DeFabio. Shaffer, 51, of 155 Fairlawn, Niles, an operator in the Niles Water Department who was charged with two counts of theft in office, is being represented by attorney Martin White.
Infante and his wife also face first-degree felony charges of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity. The indictment, which surfaced after an investigation conducted by special Prosecutor Daniel Kasaris of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, lays out details of the criminal enterprise that involved the mayor’s office, but extended to the ITAM Post 39, where Infante was accused of operating a gambling operation that included sports betting and slot machines, court documents state.