Infante files appeal; prosecutors make argument

NILES — Former Niles Mayor Ralph Infante is appealing to the 11th District Court of Appeals his 10-year prison sentence for engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity and 21 other charges on which he was convicted.

Infante did not specify a reason for the appeal. However, he requested transcripts of the jury trial.

Daniel Kasaris, a senior assistant prosecutor with the Ohio Attorney General office, responded to a motion filed by Infante in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court seeking his release while the appeal process takes place.

Infante was convicted of 22 counts, including 11 counts of tampering with records, theft in office, having an unlawful interest in a public contract, two counts of gambling, two counts of operating a gambling house and falsification. Sentences for the other charges are running concurrently with the corrupt activity charge.

Infante claimed the most serious charge — engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity — will not stand because the jury verdict forms failed to set forth the felony’s degree.

Defense attorney John Juhasz alleged although the tampering and theft in office counts contained numerous factual allegations, the verdict forms did not sufficiently distinguish them, so there is no way to be sure the jurors found Infante guilty on every element of the crimes.

Juhasz expects the guilty verdicts to be overturned upon review.

Kasaris said Infante could have been sentenced to 11 years in prison for the engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity charge alone.

“This offense is so serious that its sentence may be longer than that for a person who commits crimes of violence, including involuntary manslaughter, manslaughter, vehicular homicide and kidnapping,” Kasaris wrote. “The defendant has been convicted of the Cadillac of non-violent offenses.”

Kasaris argues the weight of evidence against Infante was overwhelming.

“The mountain of evidence establishing the existence of an enterprise, his abuse of power by raking in the flow of cash into his pockets on an annual basis and then hiding the cash and not reporting it,” Kasaris wrote. “This was not a person in a normal civilian position or even that of a general public official. This man was the mayor of the city. He abused his authority,” Kasaris wrote.

Infante was ordered to pay $51,158.32 for the investigation and prosecution of his case, as well as $999 for scrap metal that was stolen.

Infante is seeking to have the $12,388, the state seized during a search warrant be returned to him.