Assistant prosecutor ‘takes Fifth’ | News, Sports, Jobs

Assistant prosecutor ‘takes Fifth’ | News, Sports, Jobs

YOUNGSTOWN — The ongoing legal struggle between previous Mahoning County Assistant Prosecutor Martin Desmond and Prosecutor Paul Gains spilled above into an aggravated murder case final 7 days, when defense lawyer David Betras proposed the plight of existing Assistant Prosecutor Michael Rich is indicative of problems in Gains’ office environment.

Abundant has invoked his Fifth Modification rights in opposition to self-incrimination with regards to the civil situation Desmond submitted from Gains.

“Something’s going on in that workplace. I really do not know what it is, and I don’t specially treatment what it is, but my consumer is receiving ripped up in the equipment of what is heading on in that business,” Betras claimed pertaining to shopper Lavontae Knight.

The remarks came in a hearing Betras asked for to question that aggravated murder costs from Knight be dismissed, tied to the killing of Trevice Harris and wounding of a female with him Dec. 20, 2018, on the South Side. Betras argued former Assistant Prosecutor Dawn Cantalamessa “sat on” evidence possibly useful to the defense, ensuing in the evidence not building it to Betras until two weeks before the circumstance was intended to go to demo.

Judge John Durkin of Mahoning County Prevalent Pleas Court did not dismiss the fees, but he expressed concern that in “far also a lot of cases” proof valuable to the protection was turned in excess of to the defense late due to the fact prosecutors claimed not to know it existed.

The very same thing transpired in yet another scenario past summer, also involving Cantalamessa, and Durkin dismissed Cantalamessa from the situation. She later resigned from the prosecutor’s office, took a prosecutor position in Ashtabula County and now seeks a Trumbull County Widespread Pleas judgeship.

But as element of Betras’ argument, he mentioned just one of the assistant prosecutors managing the Knight case, as nicely as a different Knight aggravated murder case, is Wealthy — who “took the Fifth Amendment” last Oct relating to the civil scenario Desmond filed against Gains.

Desmond and Gains have been mired in civil litigation because Desmond sued Gains in 2017 around his firing. Desmond also appealed his termination to the Ohio Point out Personnel Board of Evaluation. Both of those cases are pending.


Betras stated through very last week’s hearing that Rich wouldn’t testify in the civil circumstance pertaining to the steps of Cantalamessa.

“He took the Fifth Amendment when they needed to check with him issues about Dawn — a prosecutor taking the Fifth about this case? Which is crazy,” Betras claimed.

Abundant stood up at that place and protested.

“Judge, this is fully irrelevant. He has no notion what he is chatting about,” Rich stated.

Attorney John Shultz was attending the hearing and stood up to suggest the decide that he is Rich’s attorney, and accused Betras of making an attempt to “cloud a circumstance in which my client is asserting his Fifth Amendment proper in an unrelated civil issue.”

The judge explained he agreed that Rich’s Fifth Amendment concern was not applicable to the hearing.

In accordance to the Cornell Law College Legal Facts Institute, the Fifth Modification of the Structure “protects a particular person from getting compelled to incriminate oneself.” Observers have suggested it is exceptionally unusual to obtain an assistant prosecutor invoking Fifth Modification legal rights.

A doc submitted by Desmond’s lawyers Feb. 18 in the prevalent pleas court civil situation involving Desmond and Gains suggests that Prosperous testified in 2019 in the Desmond-Gains litigation and was represented by an legal professional.

But on Oct. 11, 2021, Abundant invoked the Fifth Amendment in refusing to be questioned at an Oct. 27, 2021, listening to on the Desmond-Gains dispute at the State Staff Board of Critique, or SPBR, in Columbus.

Rich invoked his Fifth Modification rights in an affidavit, which states that he selected to keep on being silent following reading through the “topics” that he was likely to be asked to testify about in the SPBR situation, which resumes March 23 in Columbus.

“I invoke my Fifth Amendment privilege versus self-incrimination about those selected subject areas and ask for that this affidavit be applied in its place of me obtaining to invoke my privilege dwell and in particular person,” the affidavit states.

When questioned afterwards Tuesday about the problem, Shultz stated he believed that one particular issue Desmond’s legal professionals would have questioned about will involve items that happened in one particular or a lot more of the Knight situations.

He observed that Desmond was in the courtroom Tuesday for the hearing, as was an FBI agent.

“Given the nature of those instances, it’s, ‘Hey, I’d rather be risk-free than sorry’, due to the fact I really do not know what Marty is going to allege upcoming,” Shultz stated. “He can do whatsoever he wants as considerably as directing allegations at Paul Gains, but Mike Rich regretably acquired caught in the crossfire.”

Shultz included, “It’s an unlucky and unpleasant situation for Mike, and I don’t want to subject matter Mike as a client and a close friend to any far more stress or unfavorable inferences than are important, so that’s why I thought I would nip it in the bud by asserting the Fifth Modification.”

When achieved by phone on Thursday, Prosperous deferred to Schultz.

‘I Sense BAD’

Previous July, Durkin taken off Cantalamessa from Knight’s other murder scenario, which will involve the Oct. 25, 2018, killing of Josh Donatelli, 26, at Donatelli’s property on Imperial Street on the West Facet. The judge said Cantalamessa showed a “careless indifference to ascertaining the truth” and manufactured a wrong statement to the courtroom in the Knight-Donatelli circumstance.

Throughout Tuesday’s hearing, Betras said he was sorry for bringing up Rich’s identify.

“I experience lousy for Mike Rich, a younger law firm, caught in the crosshairs of this things,” Betras stated. “I do not mean to disparage him at all. And if I did, I certainly apologize to him in open court docket.”

Betras stated Loaded was positioned in a situation of realizing that Cantalamessa was lying to Durkin in the case from which Cantalamessa was eradicated.

“He did not know what to do. His supervisor (Cantalamessa) was lying to the court. What do you do? What is he meant to do? Connect with out a supervisor, possibly get fired?”

As for Cantalamessa, when questioned late this week about the difficulties Betras has elevated, she explained she was not lying to Durkin and she by no means was Michael Rich’s supervisor.

“He receives every thing improper,” she stated of Betras. “He gets the information of the situation erroneous. He will get what took place in the circumstance mistaken. There ended up so several issues he mentioned improper in (the summer) that he has by no means been identified as out on.”

Cantalamessa mentioned the statement that has been termed a “false statement of fact” was her “arguing the proof. The evidence at the time was just (Knight’s) statement to the law enforcement.” She explained the information and facts that has been named a “false statement of fact” was the real truth if only “evidence” is regarded, which is what she was arguing.

Cantalamessa mentioned Durkin understood the context of what the judge afterwards referred to as a “false assertion of fact.”

She stated Betras’ attempt very last month to get Knight’s rates dismissed had been an attempt to “try his circumstance in the press” and Betras’ “customary bullying techniques to defame me. Additionally, mainly because I am working for decide in Trumbull County, he is trying to interject himself into county politics.”

Cantalamessa said before that she did not realize why she was blamed final month for not turning about evidence when she has been absent from the Mahoning County Prosecutor’s Office environment because late previous summer months.

When Gains was questioned right after Tuesday’s listening to about Wealthy taking the Fifth Modification, he reported: “I have no plan why he did that. I have no expertise of any crimes (involving him).”

Gains extra, “I didn’t even know he took the Fifth right up until last 7 days. I have no notion what the issues were or everything else.”

Gains stated he sees no reason any individual in his place of work would want to assert the Fifth Modification with regards to the Desmond lawsuit: “We dedicated no crimes right here.”

Gains claimed he “unequivocally” denies the allegations Desmond has built in civil filings that Gains or anyone in his workplace engaged in felony conduct.

Gains explained he does not know what topics Loaded was likely to be requested about.


Desmond and one of his lawyers, Subodh Chandra, were asked Wednesday what sort of concerns Loaded would have gotten. Chandra claimed Abundant would have been questioned about “misconduct by Dawn Cantalamessa, himself and many others in the prosecutor’s business office regarding violations of defendants’ constitutional rights.”

Instances Wealthy would have been requested about include the two Lavontae Knight murder conditions and a situation involving Dominic Modarelli, Desmond and Chandra stated. Modarelli not too long ago questioned for expungement of records in a criminal circumstance Desmond discussed in depth when Desmond ran from Gains for prosecutor in the tumble of 2020. The expungement request is pending.

Abundant already was asked in 2019 about the Modarelli scenario through depositions in the Desmond-Gains lawsuit.

Desmond has argued Gains ought to not have had Prosperous cope with a 2018 listening to in the Modarelli criminal circumstance due to the fact Modarelli is a 2nd cousin to another assistant county prosecutor, Nicholas Modarelli.

Attorneys from outside the house of the county prosecutor’s business office have been appointed to manage every single other period of the scenario until eventually 2018, when Dominic Modarelli asked to withdraw his 2007 guilty plea to felonious assault. At a listening to in Mahoning County Popular Pleas Court, Loaded instructed Decide R. Scott Krichbaum that the prosecutor’s office environment opposed allowing for Dominic Modarelli to rescind his guilty plea. The judge took the make any difference less than advisement.

At an additional listening to a number of weeks afterwards, Krichbaum famous the target had been severely hurt. Rich claimed the victim’s father, an Austintown policeman, now indicated the victim “wants it to be completed with.” Krichbaum permitted Dominic Modarelli to rescind his 2007 responsible plea. Dominic Modarelli then pleaded responsible to menacing, a lower-stage misdemeanor. He submitted a motion Jan. 28 asking Krichbaum to seal information in his scenario.

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