Small Town Mob Is No Small Deal!

In 2014, Youngstown, Ohio Mayor John McNally was indicted on bribery, corruption and other related charges involving a scheme to line the pockets of a business associate. In 2016, he pleaded guilty to a variety of misdemeanors to avoid hard prison time. He was sentenced to probation. The former auditor of Mahoning County was also involved in the case and took a similar, prison dodging deal.

This type of thing happens somewhere in America regularly. However, this case is more interesting because it involves the mayor of a small, blighted mid-western city that, for years, was a hotbed of corruption and organized crime. The history of the Youngstown, OH Mafia is one that is fascinating, unbelievably sad and somewhat terrifying all at the same time.

Beginning in the 1930’s, Youngstown was a booming, steel producing powerhouse of a city. Over the next decade and a half, the city’s population became nearly 5 times larger. Youngstown, was considered THE place in the Midwest to raise a family if you were the hardworking, blue collar type.

However, honest families weren’t the only ones who wanted a piece of what Youngstown had to offer. Other families, namely the Pittsburgh and Cleveland-based mafia, also wanted their cut – and they didn’t waste any time or spare any lives to make it happen! When the steel industry started to fall about  35 years ago, it only manifested more crime, corruption, and opportunity for the mob.

Each decade since the 30’s had something for the mob to sink their greedy teeth into. In the 30’s, as one would expect, it was primarily bootlegging during the prohibition era. Future decades offered everything else at different junctures, including gambling, hijacking, loan sharking and, of course, drugs. Naturally, for any high octane, organized crime operation to be successful, it relies on corrupting those in local government. Therefore, everyone from once honest Police Officers to high-ranking city and county officials, often became involved in these illicit activities. Many were arrested. Some were eliminated. Others played it smart, made some big money, then got out of town before their luck (or life) ran out!
      The two most infamous leaders of the Youngstown area mob were Jimmy Prato and Joey Naples. Prato headed up the Youngstown crew until the 1980’s when he “retired.” Replacing him was Joey Naples from the Pittsburgh-based mafia. Naples was a supporter of nearly anything illegal to make money – but his first love, and specialty, was illicit gambling operations and loan sharking.

Drugs became another of the mafia’s major interests beginning in the late 1970’s. Narcotics activity reigned supreme until a monumental FBI operation in the 1990’s eliminated most mafia activity. However, the 2014 arrest of Mayor McNally, makes it clear that once crime and corruption has dominated an area for decades, there is no way to eliminate it completely. Does a city named New Orleans come to mind?

Youngstown make headlines again

David Bozanich, 61, of Youngstown, was indicted on the following charges:

  • One count of Engaging in a Pattern of Corrupt Activity, a felony of the first degree
  • Two counts of Aggravated Theft, felonies of the first degree
  • 15 counts of Bribery, felonies of the third degree
  • One count of Obstructing Justice, a felony of the fifth degree

 Sammarone served as Mayor of Youngstown from 2011 to 2013. The indictment alleges that Sammarone solicited and received recurring cash payments from a vendor in return for steering projects to the company.The indictment also serves as a superseding indictment for Dominic Marchionda 58, of Poland, and his affiliated businesses which were previously indicted on October 2, 2017, on charges including Engaging in a Pattern of Corrupt Activity, Aggravated Theft, Money Laundering, Receiving Stolen Property, Tampering with Records, and Telecommunications Fraud. The indictment includes new charges of Theft pertaining to insurance funds for the Legal Arts building and Money Laundering for laundering the stolen insurance funds related to the Legal Arts building.

     Bozanich served as Finance Director of Youngstown until December 2017. The indictment alleges that Bozanich received benefits from several individuals and in return agreed to assist in securing public funding from the city for economic development projects, including Marchionda’s.

The people of Youngstown deserve to have confidence in their elected officials, but the indictments announced today show a repeated pattern of bribery and corrupt activity,” said Attorney General Mike DeWine. “There has been tremendous cooperation in this case from my office,  Auditor of State Dave Yost, Prosecutor Paul Gains, Sheriff Jerry Green, and others who have worked hard to bring these charges to light in order to seek justice.”   

     These indictments should make clear to the people of the Mahoning Valley that our investigators and forensic auditors will not relent until we’ve taken down the last crook standing. The abuses we’ve uncovered are maddening, especially for an area of our state that has been challenged economically,” Auditor Dave Yost said. “Our work here is not complete, and we will continue to partner with Attorney General DeWine and the Mahoning County sheriff and prosecutor in this investigation until we’ve rooted out all of the corruption in the valley.”

     This ongoing case is being investigated by the Ohio Auditor of State’s Public Integrity Assurance Team with the assistance of the Mahoning County Sheriff’s Department. The Ohio Attorney General’s Office is serving as special assistant prosecutor with Mahoning County in this case. An indictment is merely an accusation, and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

 

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