Parole Board Recommends Releasing Mobster

By ANDREW WELSH-HUGGINS, AP Statehouse Correspondent

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - The Ohio Parole Board on Tuesday recommended release for an aging mobster convicted in one of Cleveland's most infamous gang assassinations.

The board voted 7-2 to recommend that Ronald D. Carabbia, 73, be released on Sept. 24, said Andrea Dean, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

Carabbia, who lived in the Youngstown suburb of Poland, was to be released from the Chillicothe Correctional Institution to Youngstown around May 20 and placed on parole for five years.

Objections from law enforcement officials delayed his parole and led to a second hearing Monday to review the decision.

Dean said the board felt that no hard evidence was presented to show Carabbia should stay in prison and that Carabbia had done the things asked of him while behind bars.

Cuyahoga County Prosecutor William Mason and FBI Agent Joe Bushner opposed his release, arguing that he still has criminal ties.

"I have a hard time understanding why anybody would allow a gangster out on the street after we got him, particularly a gangster of this nature," Mason said Tuesday.

Carabbia has been behind bars since December 1977 following his arrest in connection with the car bombing death that October of rival mobster Daniel J. Greene.

The Cleveland waterfront boss was killed on Oct. 6, 1977, when a remote-controlled bomb detonated outside a dentist's office in the Cleveland suburb of Lyndhurst.

Carabbia was 50 when he entered the state prison system in November 1979 after being convicted of aggravated murder and aggravated arson in Greene's death.

"We believe he has done everything a human being could possibly do in that situation to establish he should be released," Carole Rendon, one of Carabbia's Cleveland attorneys, said Tuesday.

She said Carabbia, who entered prison weighing 220 pounds, is a frail man weighing less than 140.

"There is nothing to indicate the likelihood he'll return to any kind of criminal activity upon his release," Rendon said.

A four-year FBI investigation into organized crime and corruption in Youngstown has led to more than 70 convictions. Among those convicted have been judges, prosecutors, a sheriff and Rep. James A. Traficant Jr, D-Ohio.

Mason said he believes that mob influence continues in Youngstown.

For that reason, releasing Carabbia would be like "putting a cat in front of a mouse and telling him not to attack it and walking out of the room," Mason said. "It's not going to happen."

On Monday, the board heard more than three hours of testimony from Mason, an FBI agent and Carabbia's family members.

Carabbia's criminal history dates to the late 1950s, when police started questioning him about car-bombing deaths, gambling operations and burglaries.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)