Ex-auditor accepts plea deal

Will testify against Infante

Tribune Chronicle / Renee Fox Will testify against Infante

WARREN — The former Niles auditor will testify against the city’s former mayor in a public corruption and gambling case after accepting a plea deal Wednesday in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court.

Charles Nader, 64, who ended his tenure as Niles auditor in 2015 after nearly 10 years in office, was facing nine charges — theft in office, two counts of tampering with records, having an unlawful interest in a public contract, three counts of representation by a public official or employee and two counts of falsification.

He pleaded guilty to felony theft in office and two misdemeanor counts of representation by a public official or employee. The other charges were dismissed, dependent on cooperation with prosecutors.

Nader will undergo a presentence investigation, but the charges could lead up to one year behind bars and a fine as much as $2,500. Sentencing is scheduled for 11 a.m. May 11 before visiting Judge Patricia Cosgrove.

Nader agreed to provide truthful testimony against former Niles Mayor Ralph Infante, who led the city from 1992 to 2015, in exchange for the plea deal.

Infante is accused of running a political profiteering racket and operating an illegal gambling business — with sports betting and slot machines — for decades out of his business, ITAM 39 in McKinley Heights.

He is accused of taking bribes for jobs, the illegal waiving of tens of thousands in building fees, theft in office, tax fraud and ethics violations. The activity wasn’t only illegal, the indictment states, but Infante also roped others into the criminal activity, using intimidation, fear and political retribution.

Special Prosecutor Dan Kasaris said the state is not seeking restitution from Nader because he pleaded guilty to using his government computer for personal business, not taking anything physical from the city. Nader used the computer for a tax business, according to court documents.

Judy Infante, the former mayor’s wife, has been charged with several felony counts of tampering with records and filing of false or fraudulent Niles income tax returns.

Her attorney previously said the state should have charged her with making a false or fraudulent tax return, rather than tampering with records.