Candidates for Youngstown mayor call charges against developer ‘black eye’

Jamael "Tito" Brown, Janet Tarpley, and Sean McKinney, Youngstown mayoral candidates
Left to Right: Jamael "Tito" Brown, Janet Tarpley, and Sean McKinney

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Candidates for mayor commented on the 105-count indictment against major Youngstown developer Dominic Marchionda.

The charges against Marchionda — who has ties to over 60 Youngstown companies — include bribery, theft, tampering with records, and fraud. Several companies he’s involved with are also facing charges.

The indictment accuses Marchionda of using city grant money for his personal gain and $25,000 to bribe a city official. The document referred to Marchionda’s method as a Ponzi scheme.

“It’s unfortunate. For me, it should not happen,” Jamael “Tito” Brown said.

Both Sean McKinney and Janet Tarpley say it’s “another black eye” for the city.

Ohio Auditor David Yost called it “old school corruption.”

“The Mahoning Valley and Youngstown have made some strides to put behind them, their image, and it’s unfortunate,” Yost said.

Youngstown Mayor John McNally said he can’t say he’s surprised.

He’d been hearing the indictments were coming and is hopeful the most current Marchionda project — the Doubletree Hotel in the old Stambaugh Building — will continue.

McNally’s finance director, Dave Bozanich, was also named in the indictment but has not been charged.

“Based on what I understand about the indictment, I don’t intend to take any disciplinary action against him,” McNally said.

Both Tito Brown and Janet Tarpley were on city council when grants were awarded to Marchionda and Sean McKinney ran buildings and grounds.

“We will do our due diligence and vet every developer or investor anytime we’re using taxpayers’ dollars,” McKinney said.

“I would actually, personally, before I take office, ask for an audit of all the books before I become mayor of the City of Youngstown,” Brown said.

“I think the city should have done a better job once they gave him the money to make sure he was spending it the correct way,” Tarpley said.

Marchionda’s Cleveland-based attorney, John McCaffrey, issued a statement Monday afternoon:

We learned late this morning that a Mahoning County Grand Jury has returned an indictment against Dominic Marchionda and several of the entities he operated or formed for development activities in the City of Youngstown.

Dominic Marchionda believes in the rebirth of downtown Youngstown. He has taken dilapidated, abandoned buildings and breathed new life into them. He has renovated, rehabilitated and refurbished long forgotten downtown properties for modern day use. He risked a great deal, personally and professionally, in pursuing his dream for Youngstown.

The State alleges that Marchionda’s development success was accomplished through theft and deceit. It refers to his redevelopment projects and efforts as a ‘Ponzi scheme.’

Mr. Marchionda rejects the State’s characterizations and will defend his years of development work with evidence in a court of law.”

copy of the indictment is available on the Ohio Attorney General’s and Auditor’s websites.

The 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 a special assistant prosecutor with Mahoning County in this case.