|ORGANIZATION ISSUES MONEY/POLITICS NEWS INDEX|
Lobbyist pleads guilty to filing false tax returns;
By Margaret Newkirk
Federal prosecutors in Cincinnati have another guilty plea in an ongoing investigation of alleged corruption among state and local environmental regulators in the Ohio River Valley.
Michael Anthony Fabiano has agreed to plead guilty to one count of filing false tax returns in exchange for his cooperation with investigators.
According to the plea agreement, filed in Cincinnati on Oct. 28, Fabiano will be charged with no other crimes related to the ongoing federal grand investigation, as long as he gives his "complete cooperation" to the ongoing investigation.
The tax charge -- that Fabiano improperly took deductions totaling $12,000 -- carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The new guilty plea is the fourth to come out of the ongoing federal probe, which is looking at a web of relationships surrounding Paul Voinovich, U.S. Sen. George Voinovich's younger brother.
Pasquale "Patsy" DeLuca, the former head of the North Ohio Valley Air Authority in Steubenville, his son Ron and NOVAA air filter inspector and political operative Vincent Zumpano all pleaded guilty last month to public corruption and conspiracy charges.
In their pleas, they said the elder DeLuca and Zumpano conspired to extort almost $170,000 from a businessman who wanted a state EPA landfill permit, in exchange for their assistance with that permit.
The money passed through the younger DeLuca in order to disguise the fact that it was going to employees of NOVAA -- an enforcement arm of the state EPA.
It was to be split 50-50 with an unnamed consultant -- which sources have identified as Clark Miller, a former vice president in Voinovich's V Group.
The earlier plea agreements also said Patsy DeLuca got money through his son from an unnamed lobbyist -- also in exchange for environmental "consulting."
That lobbyist was Fabiano -- according to both sources and checks obtained by the Akron Beacon Journal.
In an unrelated deposition this year, Zumpano said he and DeLuca made their deal with the landfill owner on instructions from Paul Voinovich and Miller, and that the money went back to those two men.
Zumpano also said Voinovich, V Group vice president Frank Fela and Fabiano pressured him and DeLuca to go easy on the WTI incinerator, and that he believed Voinovich was getting paid by WTI.
Documents released as part of an Ohio Elections Commission investigation of Fabiano, both Voinovich brothers and others, show that one company controlled by Fabiano made payments of around $3,000 to $6,000 almost monthly to the V Group in 1994 and 1995 at a time when WTI was paying another Fabiano company between $10,000 and $27,000 per month.
V Group officials said the payments from Fabiano were for lending the company's name to possible start-up businesses with Fabiano.