Monday, April 22, 2013


Tuesday, April 23, 2013 could be the most crucial day in the life (some 50 years, now) of Stark County Common Pleas Judge Francis G. Forchione.

For tomorrow is the day that Judge Michael McNulty (formerly of the Barberton Municipal Court, but now retired) is to determine whether or not there is "probable cause" to believe Judge Forchione committed the crime of "theft-in-office" in his handling of the fine portion of the penalty meted out to the now-former Jackson Township resident Scott D. Studer.

Studer pled guilty (December 19, 2012) to multiple felony counts of the Illegal Use of a Minor in a Nudity-Oriented Material or Performance [Ohio Revised Code {ORC} 21907.323(A)(1)](F2) in secretly taping Jackson Township High School freshman basketball players in the school's locker room.

A Columbus resident (some suspect with Stark County ties) on February 28th of this year filed what appears to be a "sort of" equivalent of a "citizen's arrest"  of His Honor (as provided for ORC Sections 2935.09 and .10) growing out of an incident in late December, 2012 in which he issued a series of orders and letters against now-former Jackson Township resident Scott D. Studer.

In this blog, text bearing the color as exemplified in this particular text indicates a timeline for the orders/letters/lawsuits related to how Judge Forchione dealt with the sentencing of Studer.

In this blog, text bearing the color as exemplified in this particular text indicates a timeline for the affidavits/pleadings/orders related to the probable cause matter re:  Judge Forchione recited above.

For the uninitiated, here is a string of links to prior SCPR blogs in which the Studer case and its ramifications are discussed:
On December 31, 2012, Judge Forchione sentenced Studer to 15 years in prison and fined him $5,000.

Here is where the judge got off the track of following the law of Ohio with respect to the fine.

"[T]he court orders [the $5,000] be forwarded to the victims of [the] Newtown, Connecticut tragedy."

Getting more specific on the January 2, 2013, Judge Forchione issued a follow up order, the key portions of which are:
Now comes the Court who hereby confirms that the Defendant, Scott D. Studer, has complied with the Court's previous order to pay the sum of $5,000.00 to the Sand Hook School Support Fund. ...   
The check was provided to the Court on January 2, 2013.  The Court forwarded the check along with a letter of instruction, attached to the entry hereto.  (emphasis added)
Here is a re-creation  (emphasis added) of Judge Forchione's "letter of instruction." 

                                                                          January 2, 2013

Sandy Hook School Support Fund
c/o Newtown Savings Bank
39 Main St.
Newtown, Ct 06470

Dear Sir or Madam,

     Recently I presided over a criminal case in Stark County, Ohio regarding Scott D. Studer.  Mr. Studer was a coach at Jackson High School who was caught videotaping basketball players in the locker room for his own self-gratification.

     A part of his sentence, I ordered him to pay the sum of $5,000, as well as serving a 15-year jail sentence. Since the nexus of the crime took place in an educational setting, I felt it more appropriate that the funds be given to the Sandy Hook School Support Fund.  While it is unthinkable to compare this case to the tragedy that has occurred in your community, the Studer case shocked Stark County and left many people asking the same question with which Newtown surely struggles:  "How cound this happen?"  "What can we do to prevent this in the future?"; and, "How can we best help those affected?"  It is my hope that some good can come out of this case by helping  those in your community as they work to rebuild their lives after the Sandy Hook School tragedy.

     I would greatly appreciate it if the Court could receive a confirmation of this donation, so that I can ensure its proper application. (emphasis added)


     The Hornorable Frank G. Forchione, Judge


On January 23, 2013, Belthlehem Township resident Tom Marcelli asked local attorney and civic activist Craig T. Conley to initiate efforts (to the point of filing a lawsuit, if necessary) to compel the payment of the $5,000 fine to the Stark County treasury maintained county general fund as required by ORC 2949.11, in part to wit:
[A]n officer who collects a fine shall pay it to into the treasury of the county in which such fine was assessed, within twenty days after receipt of the fine, to the credit of the county general fund."
To that end, Conley wrote Stark County Prosecutor John Ferrero  asking:
... on behalf of the taxpayers of Stark County, and more particularly on behalf of my client, Thomas M. Marcelli (a County [sic] resident, taxpayer and electorate), I request you immediately institute a civil action against Judge Forchione for the recover of and payment into the Stark County Treasury of Mr. Studer's fine ... .
On January 30, 2013,  Civil Division Chief Ross Rhodes wrote to Conley rejecting his request (Note: to see the entire Rhodes letter go to this LINK).

On February 1, 2013, Conley files a declaratory judgment action against Forchione on behalf of client Marcelli (LINK).

On February 4, 2013, Forchione wrote a letter (via fax) to a Sandy Hook School Support Fund officials acknowledging a telephone call of the same date wherein communicated:  "As I indicated, a Stark County taxpayer has filed a lawsuit over the donation.  The returned donation will need to be made out to the [sic] Nancy Reinbold ... ."

On February 6, 2013, the Sandy Hook School Support Fund wired the $5,000 payable to Stark County Clerk of Courts Nancy Reingold.

On February 14, 2013, Judge Forchione held a video-conference with Studer (who by then was in prison) wherein he re-sentenced Studer without mention of the $5,000 being for the Sandy Hook School Support Fund.

On February 15, 2013, Tom Marcelli instructs Conley to dismiss the February 1, 2013 filed declaratory judgment action inasmuch as Conley had advised him that the return of the $5,000 rendered the case without a justiciable issue.

On February 28, 2013, Louis W. Demis files his ORC Sections 2935.09 and .10 authorized affidavit alleging that Judge Forchione's actions as described above constitute "theft-in-office" which gave birth to the selection by Canton Law Director Joseph Martuccio of an out-of-town prosecutor (Craig Morgan, Akron's chief assistant [criminal] prosecutor and Judge Michael McNulty to conduct a probable cause hearing, ;which, as indicated at the beginning of this blog, is sent for tomorrow:  Tuesday, April 23, 2013 at 9:00 a.m. in the Canton Municipal Court.

Probably to Judge Forchione's chagrin, guess who is lingering in the shadows in the prosecution of the probable cause hearing?

You've got it!  None other than his nemesis Craig T. Conley.

And Conley is taking his role very seriously.

He has prepared a well-done and thorough brief and supplement thereto (the SCPR provides a copy of the brief at this end of this blog for those readers who want to take them in) that appear to present the distinct possibility that Judge Francis G. Forchione of the Stark County Court of Common Pleas will have to defend himself on the accusation that in his handling of the Studer case he has committed a theft-in-office.

Judge Forchione has stated in area media accounts of the Studer matter that he does not believe in "creative sentencing."  But that is exactly what the SCPR believes that the $5,000 Studer fine being directed to the Sandy Hook School Support Fund is a clear case of.  And that is to put a kind face on it.

To be less than kind, one can do what Conley did with the area media in calling Judge Forchione out on "grandstanding" in making the order.

And to be ultimately unkind, to accuse someone of theft-in-office (as Demis has done Forchione) presents a real challenge to Forchione's continuance in office.

Neither creative sentencing nor grandstanding has a place in American jurisprudence.

Everybody participating in our civil and criminal system need - simply - to do one thing.

Follow the rule of law!

Wasn't the Marcelli/Conley declaratory action was the nudge that rectified Forchione deviation therefrom?

Does anyone believe that Frank Forchione will ever again venture into the "creative sentencing" waters?

So is the Demis action a case of overdoing it?

And will Judge McNulty see it as such?

It is regrettable that Judge Forchione went "off-the-reservation" and it could prove very costly indeed to him.

It is vitally important to the integrity of our way of life that no man, no woman, nor non-emancipated person be above the rule of law.

And that the SCPR thinks is what Marcelli's declaratory judgment action was all about.

And that is what Demis' affidavit appears to be about - underscored.

Nothing else matters!!!



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