CLEVELAND (AP) — Three current and former politicians in northeastern Ohio pleaded not guilty Thursday to corruption charges and were ordered not to leave the state without the court’s permission.
Youngstown Mayor John McNally and Mahoning County Auditor Michael Sciortino were indicted this month in Cuyahoga County on charges including racketeering, conspiracy and bribery. Martin Yavorcik, an attorney who was an unsuccessful candidate for Mahoning County prosecutor in 2008, faces many of the same charges.
The allegations concerning McNally stem from his time as a Mahoning County commissioner.
A judge set bond at $15,000 for each defendant. They are accused of helping an unidentified Youngstown businessman try to prevent Mahoning County commissioners from moving county offices out of a building owned by the businessman’s company.
Prosecutors say the unsuccessful effort to block the move occurred between 2005 and 2009. The offices were moved to a complex that Mahoning County had purchased out of U.S. Bankruptcy Court in 2006. McNally, one of three county commissioners at the time, voted against the move.
This is the second time prosecutors have filed charges in the case. A visiting judge in Mahoning County dismissed all charges in 2011 when the FBI refused to turn over thousands of hours of surveillance tape sought by defense attorneys.
Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty said the new indictment was filed in his county because some of the alleged crimes occurred there. The indictment alleges that the businessman paid legal fees on behalf of McNally and Sciortino and made campaign contributions to Yavorcik in exchange for them helping the businessman in his fight with Mahoning County.
Attorneys for McNally, Sciortino and Yavorcik said Thursday their clients did nothing illegal.
“I think this case is really going to be a challenge to our justice system,” said Lynn Maro, who represented McNally and Sciortino at the arraignment. “If it works the works the way it’s supposed to, these guys should be acquitted. They did nothing wrong here.”