Former Niles mayor’s wife avoids jail

Judith Infante receives probation, community service

Tribune Chronicle / R. Michael Semple Judith Infante, left, wife of former Niles Mayor Ralph Infante, stands next to her attorney, Louis DeFabio, as she is sentenced Tuesday afternoon by Visiting Judge Patricia Cosgrove in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court. Infante pleaded no contest and was found guilty last month of filing a false income tax return and falsifying records. She was sentenced to one year of probation and 50 hours of community service.

WARREN — Judith Infante was sentenced Tuesday to one year of probation and 50 hours of community service for her part in the public corruption and gambling trial that sent her husband, former Niles Mayor Ralph Infante, to prison for 10 years.

“Before you today is a 69-year-old mother of three who has never been in trouble before in her life, has no record,” defense attorney Louis DeFabio said before the sentencing. “I used to work for a judge that said, ‘For some people exposure to the system is punishment enough.’ They are so frightened by the ramifications of things, you know that they are never going to get in trouble again, and I think given her record … she is never going to get in trouble again.”

Accused of failing to report “income from gambling and other sources,” and facing seven counts of tampering with records, Judith Infante was found guilty in April after pleading no contest to a low-level felony charge for filing false income tax records and one misdemeanor falsifying records charge.

The prosecution had no further comment during the proceedings.

Judith Infante could have faced up to a year in prison for the felony and six months in the Trumbull County Jail for the misdemeanor, in addition to $2,500 in fines.

“In accepting this plea of no contest, the court was giving Mrs. Infante the benefit of the doubt that she did not realize the breadth or extent of the criminal activity of her husband,” Visiting Judge Patricia A. Cosgrove said. “If you do well on community control, which I expect you to do, complete your community service and don’t commit any other offenses, the court would consider terminating your probation half-way through.”

Judith Infante also was required to file an amended tax return, which she completed, according to Cosgrove.

Ralph Infante, 62, who was mayor of Niles for 24 years, was sentenced Friday to 10 years in prison after being convicted on 13 tampering with records charges, two gambling charges and two charges of operating a gambling house, two counts of theft in office, one count of unlawful interest in a public contract, one count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity and falsification.

Judge Cosgrove thanked several officials for their work pursuing the Infante case, including Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and the Ohio Auditor’s Office.