Former mayor of Niles indicted on 56 charges

The indictment alleges that as mayor, Ralph Infante accepted bribes and operated an illegal gambling business

Former Niles Mayor indicted on 56 felony criminal charges.

WARREN, Ohio (WYTV) — A Trumbull County grand jury has issued indictments against the former mayor of Niles and associates related to public corruption and illegal gambling operations.

Ralph Infante, who served as Niles mayor from 1992 to 2016, was indicted on 56 counts.

The indictment alleges that as mayor, Infante was engaged in graft and accepting bribes. The indictment also alleges that Infante operated an illegal gambling enterprise out of the business he operated, ITAM #39 in Girard. In all, the indictment alleges that Infante received nearly $200,000 in unreported cash, income and gifts.

The charges against him include:

  • 17 counts of tampering with records
  • Two counts of gambling
  • Two counts of operating a gambling house
  • Two counts of possessing criminal tools
  • 10 counts of soliciting improper compensation
  • Two counts of theft in office
  • One count of having an unlawful interest in a public contract
  • Four counts of bribery
  • One count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity
  • Seven counts of filing a false disclosure statement
  • One count of obstruction of justice
  • Five counts of money laundering
  • One count of theft
  • One count of falsification

The indictment alleges that Judy Infante assisted her husband in tampering with records. She is charged with one count of Engaging in a Pattern of Corrupt Activity, nine counts of tampering with records and one count of theft.

The indictment also alleges that Scott Shaffer, a City of Niles employee, sold city property for cash without returning such funds to the city auditor and used city property and equipment for personal reasons for more than a decade. He is charged with two counts of theft in office.

ITAM #39, a business located at 1762 North State Street in Girard, was indicted on the following counts:

  • One count of Engaging in a Pattern of Corrupt Activity, a felony of the first degree
  • Two counts of Gambling, misdemeanors of the first degree
  • Two counts of Operating a Gambling house, misdemeanors of the first degree
  • Two counts of Possessing Criminal Tools, felonies of the fifth degree

The case was investigated by the Ohio Auditor of State’s Office with assistance from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The charges are being prosecuted by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office Special Prosecutions Section.

The case has been assigned to Visiting Judge Patricia Ann Cosgrove of Summit County.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine issued the following statement after the indictments:

Today’s indictment and the investigation regarding the City of Niles are the latest efforts my office has undertaken to help fight corruption in the Mahoning Valley. The Oakhill investigation has been completed, yielding significant successes, including guilty pleas and guilty verdicts for high-ranking county officials, candidates, and judges. While some matters like Oakhill are now done (and we anticipate no further indictments in Oakhill), we will continue to help local governments, when requested, investigate and prosecute wrongdoing, just like we have done in Niles and elsewhere around Ohio.”

No one on Niles City Council wanted to comment on the indictments Tuesday evening. Mayor Tom Scarnecchia also refused to comment.

“I don’t know anything about them,” he said. “I really have no comment on them.”

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story listed one extra charge against Infante. He faces 56 charges, and the list of charges against him has been updated.