CLEVELAND (AP) - The FBI has criticized a former chief prosecutor for recommending that former Youngstown mob boss Ronald "The Crab" Carabbia be paroled.

Carmen Marino, a former Cuyahoga County prosecutor, obtained an aggravated-murder conviction against Carabbia, 73, in 1978 for the bombing death of Cleveland gangster Danny Greene.

Marino wrote a letter to the Ohio Parole Board on Jan. 30, the day before he retired, in which he recommended Carabbia's release. Based largely on that letter, the board voted Tuesday to free Carabbia on Sept. 24.

"It was inappropriate for Carmen Marino to write that letter of recommendation without advising us of his intent," Bob Hawk, an FBI spokesman, told The Plain Dealer. "The FBI was a crucial part of the Danny Greene investigative team in the late '70s, and we should have been told about it.

"Mr. Carabbia was convicted of violently taking a life," he said. "He was sentenced to serve life, and he should serve life."

The FBI believes Carabbia is running a sports-betting operation out of La Villa Sports Bar and Grille, a Mahoning County pub owned by his sister-in-law, Sally Almasy, said Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason. The FBI raided the bar in January, the newspaper reported.

Hawk said Friday he had no comment.

If the FBI had presented evidence that Carabbia was involved in illegal gambling, Marino said he would have opposed parole.

"Because I'm relatively certain they didn't make a very impressive display to the pardon and parole commission to convince them that this guy was still involved in organized crime, I don't see any reason to change my position," he said.

Mason has not decided whether to appeal.

"Carmen is and was an outstanding prosecutor," Mason said. "His reputation is impeccable, and I stand by that."

Carabbia was convicted after a 79-day trial that pitted Marino, Cleveland's top Mafia prosecutor, against Cleveland Browns President Carmen Policy, who was a lawyer for some of Youngstown's top mob figures.

During his closing argument, Marino apologized for granting immunity to mobsters for their testimony.

"If we stink a bit, it's because we had to climb down into the sewers and haul these lice, maggots and creeps into court to stand trial," he told jurors.

Policy called Marino's witnesses "liars and perverts."

Marino said one reason he recommended parole for Carabbia was that the state's star witness, confessed bomber Raymond Ferritto, was a liar.

After repeatedly saying that another defendant triggered the bomb, Ferritto changed his story during jury selection and fingered Carabbia.

Marino said the switch still bothers him, even though he believes the latter story.

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