My first foray into the field of legal ethics was both fascinating and exciting. In 1999, while working as an assistant disciplinary counsel, I was assigned work on some cases coming out of Mahoning County, Ohio, specifically, the notorious city of Youngstown (dubbed “Mob City, USA”). The cases involved organized crime (the mafia!) and nearly 100 lawyers and judges where were being swept up in the dragnet of a federal organized crime task force. We worked these cases for the next year or so, and along the way, I heard amazing stories, deposed people in maximum security prisons, including an alleged hit man, and a “safecracker” who was missing most of his fingers. I also spent some time with the county prosecutor, who had survived an assassination attempt (and was happy to show everyone the scar from the bullet shot he took to the abdomen). It was good work, and I recently came across some articles that kind of summarized the results, over 15 years later. This got me thinking about all of those people who managed to funnel an awful lot of money into the wrong places in order to let the bad guys go free. I kind of wondered where they were and what they were doing.
So, here’s a few of the former attorneys and judges who got either got caught or turned themselves in and cooperated by telling on the rest of them:
- Jack Campbell- Attorney. Turned himself in and cooperated by giving information about most of the others. This guy started it all by giving up to the feds in 1997. Ended up with 4 years probation; resigned his law license.
- George Alexander- Attorney. 72 months for racketeering and aiding and abetting a violent crime. Permanently disbarred.
- James A. Philomea- County Prosecutor, attorney. 48 months and 1 day for racketeering and accepting bribes while in office. Resigned his law license.
- Stuart J. Banks- Attorney. 8 months plus 8 months community monitoring for bribing three judges and two prosecutors. Resigned his law license.
- Lawrence J. Seidita- Attorney. 8 months plus 8 months community monitoring for bribing three judges and two prosecutors. Resigned his law license.
- Martin W. Emrich- Judge, attorney. 30 months for taking bribes while in office. Resigned his law license.
- Andrew Polovischak Jr. Judge, 30 months for taking bribes while in office. Resigned his law license.
- Paul Gambrel. 3 years probation for mail fraud conspiracy. Felony suspended from the practice law which turned into an indefinite suspension in 2001. Never applied to have the suspension lifted.
- Walter D. Hartsok. 6 months house arrest for mail fraud conspiracy. Felony suspended from the practice of law, which turned into an indefinite suspension in 2001. Never applied to have the suspension lifted.
- Joseph Dubyak. 4 months and then 4 months house arrest for mail fraud conspiracy. Felony suspended from the practice of law, which turned into a suspension for term in 2001. Reinstated to the practice of law in 2002. Currently practicing in Cleveland.
- Stewart Mandel. 2 years probation with first 6 months in electronically monitored house arrest for filing a false corporate tax return on behalf of Ace Fireworks, which had ties to mob boss Lenny Strollo. Felony suspended in 1998, which turned into an indefinite suspension in 2000. Reinstated to practice in 2004. Now deceased.
- Fred Bailey. County Judge for 26 years, attorney. Cooperated with the United States Attorney and gave testimony related to his accepting bribes while in office. Also admitted that he took bribes when he was an assistant county prosecutor. Resigned his license to practice law.
- Patrick W. Kerrigan. Municipal Judge, attorney. 30 months for extortion and tampering with a grand jury witness. Resigned his license to practice law.
- James R. Wise. 13 months for mail fraud. Suspended indefinitely in 1999. Reinstated to practice in 2009.
- Don L. Hanni. Attorney, former County Democratic Party Chair. Suspended for term but stayed, for attempting to intimidate a witness against him. Now deceased.
- Peter J. Bozanich. Cooperated with US Attorney and testified against former Judge Kerrigan by identifying cases where he paid bribes to Kerrigan. Never criminally charged. Based upon his admission that he paid bribes, he was permanently disbarred in 2002.
In addition to all of these judges and lawyers, the task force successfully prosecuted the Mahoning County Sheriff, Phil Chance, the Police Chief of Campbell (a Youngstown suburb), two Campbell detectives, the Mahoning County Engineer, and US Congressman James Traficant. The most famous of these prosecutions was of Lenny Strollo, the admitted head of organized crime in Mahoning County. You can read all about him in a couple of different books that describe his life and his eventual plea-deal with the US Attorney.
I’ll provide you with one link to a great article about all of this. I’m only providing one link though, because you will undoubtedly be able to find 100’s of articles and writings about Youngstown and its mob culture on your own. Here you go:
Anyway, exciting start to legal ethics.