September 25, 2018
Prosecutors said Monday in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court that John Siranovic, the former Smith Township police chief, was the only person who held the key to the department's evidence room, failed to show proper documentation for money taken in a gambling raid and $10,000 of that money that is missing.
Defense attorney Ed Hartwig countered that his client has no motive for taking the money, saying he was never disciplined in 21 years as an officer, has no history of substance abuse and has no financial problems.
Siranovic, 48, is on trial before Judge Anthony D'Apolito on felony counts of grand theft and theft in office. He is accused of taking $10,000 that was part of more than $24,000 cash seized in a May 2014 gambling raid in the township by the state Bureau of Criminal Investigation.There also were more than $4,000 worth of gift cards for gas and cellphones taken in the raid.
Assistant Prosecutor Ken Cardinal said in his opening statement that Siranovic is the only person who had a key to the evidence room where the money was stored. Cardinal said Siranovic did not properly account for the money to the township fiscal officer when she asked how much was there and he gave her $17,000. He provided no documentation of the total amount that was confiscated, Cardinal said
Cardinal also said Siranovic did not give the key to the evidence room to the new chief when he resigned in October to take a job as a patrolman with another police department. Cardinal said Siranovic told other officers he was going to buy equipment for the department and pay for improvements to the station, but that money came out of the township's general fund and was not provided by Siranovic.
Nothing was ever officially logged in and deputy sheriffs who investigated the case scoured the room and never found the money, Cardinal said.
"There was only one record keeper, one person who held the key to the evidence room," Cardinal said.
Hartwig said his client had no motive to take anything. He and his family live in a modest house and drive modest cars and they have no financial problems.
Siranovic also did give the key to the new chief, Hartwig said, countering Cardinal's claim. He said there is no evidence Siranovic took the money.