Judge reinstates Strabala’s restitution

LISBON — Stephen Strabala is back on the hook for the millions of dollars he still owes Columbiana County for his role in the 1993 county investment scandal.

U.S. District Court Judge Solomon Oliver Jr., in a decision issued last Thursday, ordered Strabala to resume making restitution to the county in the amount of $20.4 million, which includes about $4.6 million in principal and interest that has accrued since the initial judgment was issued in 1995.

Strabala spent seven years in prison for secretly investing $10 million in county funds, $6 million of which was lost in the stock market. He also spent $334,000 in county funds on himself.

The scandal resulted in the forced resignation of his late father, former county treasurer Ardel Strabala, who served a one-year prison sentence for investing county funds through his son, who was a stockbroker at the time.

As part of the plea deal with federal authorities in 1995, the younger Strabala was ordered to make restitution in the amount of $4.7 million, with payments beginning in 1998. Some of Strabala’s property was sold, with the money applied toward the judgment, but he quit making monthly payments altogether in 2011 after paying a total of $33,755.

Upon learning Strabala had quit making restitution, the county prosecutor’s office filed a motion in September in federal court asking the dormant restitution order be revived, saying they had until 2021 to do so because of the law in effect at the time, and Judge Oliver agreed. Strabala’s attorney had argued a law passed in 2004 created a new statute of limitations, but Oliver ruled the new law could not be applied retroactively.

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