Accused Sebring judge refuses plea deal offer

Tribune Chronicle

YOUNGSTOWN — A Mahoning County Area Court judge facing charges that allege she stole nearly $100,000 from the estate of a client declined the prosecution’s offer of a plea deal on Monday.

Judge Diane Vettori-Caraballo, 49, of the Sebring court in southern Mahoning County turned down a plea deal offered by the prosecution on charges that were filed in January in a bill of information by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Cleveland.

Vettori-Caraballo faces charges of fraud, structuring cash deposits and making false statements to law enforcement officers. According to a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, a status conference in the federal case is now scheduled for June 7 before U.S. District Court Judge Aaron Polster.

The prosecution has 90 days in which to seek an indictment.

Vettori-Caraballo is accused of stealing more than $96,000 from the estate of client Dolores Falgiani following her 2016 death. She had been drafting a will for the woman as part of her private practice, and after the woman died, prosecutors say Vettori-Caraballo stole money from the woman’s home.

Federal prosecutors initially charged the judge in federal “bill of information” in the case, suggesting that Vettori-Caraballo would not fight the charges. Instead, however, she pleaded not guilty.

The Ohio Supreme Court has banned Vettori-Caraballo from hearing cases while her case is pending.