Consider Niles damage and keep Infante locked up

After just about three weeks of his 10-year prison sentence for engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity while he was the top elected administrator in the city of Niles, former Mayor Ralph Infante already is seeking release. His attorney this week filed court documents arguing that “substantial grounds for appeal” exist and that Infante should be released pending those appeals. The document outlines what the appeals likely will include, yet no appeal has yet been filed, and the attorney says he won’t be the attorney filing the appeal.

It’s official. Infante has been convicted of multiple crimes stemming from his time in office. A jury of his peers decided that he was guilty of these self-serving actions, many of which likely played a role in creating Niles’ serious financial difficulties. And make no mistake, many people have suffered from his actions.

Niles residents and those that work within the city limits continue to struggle everyday to earn a living and pay their taxes in order to bail the city out of the state-designated fiscal emergency. Certainly, job applicants who may have been more qualified for positions were passed over in favor of those who, instead, were willing to pay Infante gobs of cash to buy or keep their positions on the city payroll.

This type of operation was well-known and accepted as simply the way business was done in Niles.

Infante stood before visiting Common Pleas Court Judge Patricia Cosgrove during his sentencing in open court to apologize for his actions and beg for leniency. He told the judge he was embarrasssed for himself and his family.

The judge said she opted against a lighter sentence when she considered the damage Infante’s actions have done to the confidence residents may have for hard-working public officials.

Yet now the former mayor hopes to utilize legal technicalities to have the conviction overturned and to be released while the case is debated in appeals court.

Of course, everyone is entitled to the legal process and to appeal a verdict.

But in the meantime, Infante stands as a convicted defendant. While his appeals are pending, he should remain behind bars. We hope the judge and the legal system agree.

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