Published: Wednesday, September 5, 2007
Philomena dies; served time for crimes in office
Philomena graduated from Cardinal Mooney High School and Ohio University.
By WILLIAM K. ALCORN
YOUNGSTOWN "My condolences to his family" was the comment from Mahoning County Prosecutor Paul J. Gains, upon learning about the death of disgraced former prosecutor James A. Philomena.
"No comment," was all Philomena's former deputy prosecutor, Brad Gessner, now an assistant Summit County prosecutor, had to say about the Sunday death.
Arrangements for private services for Philomena, 60, are being handled by Lane Funeral Home in Austintown.
He was a man once widely known in courthouse circles for his flamboyant style of dress and talk, and his desire for reaching higher office having unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination for Ohio attorney general.
But his downfall came from bribery, case-fixing, perjury and a drug problem. There were allegations of his involvement in the failed murder-for-hire of Gains but an FBI special agent testified in 1999 there wasn't enough evidence to charge him.
Philomena was released in 2005 after serving six years in state and federal prisons.
State, federal sentences
He had asked for drug treatment in lieu of conviction. But he wound up serving four years in a state penitentiary for bribery and perjury, to which he pleaded guilty in October 2001. He also served a four-year federal sentence after pleading guilty in November 1999 to racketeering and bribery charges. He admitted fixing cases during his tenure as prosecutor.
The four-year federal sentence and the first four years of the six-year state sentence were served concurrently.
In 2004, Philomena, 56 at the time, sought early judicial release from state prison.
His attorney, Charles Dunlap of Canfield, said then that Philomena had served more than 180 days in the state penitentiary and if made to complete the rest of his two years, would have served longer time than any other official who was caught up in a probe of Mahoning County government corruption.
Dunlap at the time also described Philomena as a "broken, ruined man who has served more time than any other violator of similar offenses."
His motion for early release was denied. Special prosecutor John R. Mitchell wrote in court documents: "His sentence was commensurate to his acts and he should be required to serve the remainder of his prison time."
Philomena, a son of Mr. and Mrs. James Philomena, was a 1965 graduate of Cardinal Mooney High School and graduated in 1969 from Ohio University. He was an English teacher at Princeton Junior High School for four years and served as a part-time instructor in Youngstown State University's School of Business. He passed the state bar examination in 1974.