Ohio to seek restitution for investigation

State to recoup $51,158 from ex-Niles Mayor Infante

Ohio officials are planning to recoup $51,158 spent on the investigation and prosecution of former Niles Mayor Ralph Infante after all appeals have been completed, according to a spokesman with Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s Office.

“We intend to aggressively go after any money owed relative to the investigation and prosecution after all appeals have been pursued,” said Dan Tierney, DeWine’s spokesman.

Tierney said the wait for the appeals process to be completed is typically done to make sure none of the counts on which defendants are convicted are overturned.

The state’s effort to retrieve funds could include going after income earned from Infante’s pension benefits, but what methods may be pursued have not been determined, Tierney said.

The cost of the prosecution of the case was estimated to be $11,913.12, not including the cost of lead attorney Daniel Kasaris’ stay in Trumbull County because his family still lives in the area. The cost of the investigation conducted by the Ohio Auditor’s office was $39,245.20.

The Ohio Auditor’s office said it is up to the court to determine how the state will recover funds owed by Infante.

In addition to those costs, Infante was ordered to repay the city of Niles $999 for scrap sold under his watch.

Visiting Court Judge Patricia Cosgrove said during Infante’s sentencing that the scrap money collected by those working for Infante belonged to the city’s tax payers and should not have been used for office holiday parties.

Defense attorney John Juhasz told Cosgrove that Infante likely would appeal the sentences, but as of Wednesday, Infante had not filed an appeal to the 10-year sentence. He was convicted of one count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, 13 counts of tampering with records, a count of unlawful interest in a public contract, two counts of theft in office, four counts of operating a gambling house and one count of falsification.

Juhasz could not be reached for comment.

Tierney said the Internal Revenue Service was informed of the state’s investigation and eventual conviction of Infante for gambling and operating an gambling establishment at McKinley Height’s ITAM No. 39 throughout the process.

“I don’t know what the IRS is planning to do,” Tierney said.

The court took possession of $12,388 confiscated from Infante’s North Rhodes Avenue home during a search warrant, which will be used to pay back some of the costs. The money was given to the Trumbull County Clerk of Court’s Office to hold until the appeals have been exhausted.

The county clerk is Infante’s sister, Karen Infante Allen.

Niles Mayor Thomas A. Scarnecchia said the city has not gone after the $999 the court ordered Infante to repay for the scrap sales.

“It has just been a week,” Scarnecchia said. “I’m sure if it takes too long, our law director will go after it.”