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A discussion on organized crime in the Valley will air on Friday


“Organized crime is sexy,” Gains said. “People love to watch it and re-watch it. Just like people love to play.”


True crime podcasts have exploded in popularity in recent years. Now, a local roundtable hosted the producer of one of the world’s best crime podcasts and several Valley crime experts who hosted a packed house Thursday in downtown Youngstown.

“Philosopher Santayana said it best,” Mahoning County District Attorney Paul Gains said. “Those who do not remember the past are doomed to repeat it.”

It’s an in-depth discussion of Youngstown’s history with organized crime. The Crooked City Podcast is teaming up with Valley crime experts for a panel discussion Thursday that will air in the Valley on Friday.

“Organized crime is sexy,” Gains said. “People love to watch it and re-watch it. Just like people love to play.”

“We shed a lot of light on why they would become corrupt and the idea that money corrupts and these people would go astray,” said Tim Seman, a local genealogy and history librarian who moderated the discussion.

Crooked City is well known in the podcast world, currently ranking as the 7th most popular podcast in the world. Led by Johnny Chechitelli, the podcast is based right here in the Valley.

The discussion brought together Valley crime experts, including prosecutor Paul Gains, former Vindicator columnist Bertram de Souza, YSU history professor Fred Viehe and Chechitelli.

Panelists discussed well-known Valley names including Joey Naples, Lenny Strollo and Jim Traficant. De Souza and Gaines spoke about their personal experiences with Valley crime, including the assassination attempt on Gains.

“To really provide much of the inside story of what happened,” Seman explained, “it’s essential to have them on the panel.”

A packed house intrigued by the story, taking away a deeper understanding of Mahoning Valley’s organized crime.

“It’s to learn what happened so we can stop it in the future and not have a repeat of what happened,” Gains said. “Especially here in the 90s.”

The podcast featuring Crooked City airs Friday on You can also find the segment on our 21 News app.