The state has agreed to pay two Northeast Ohio men about $1.45 million each after they were declared wrongfully imprisoned for more than 16 years.Earlier this month, the Ohio Court of Claims approved a settlement between the state, Robert Gondor, and Randy Resh. The two men were implicated in the 1988 murder of Connie Nardi in Portage County. They were released from prison in 2007 and officially designated wrongfully imprisoned in 2014.
The two filed for compensation with the Court of Claims and received partial payments in December 2015. Gandor, who spent 5,936 days in prison, was initially paid about $422,000, and Resh, who was imprisoned for 6,012 days, received about $427,000.
Both were 24 years old when incarcerated. Gondor was employed as a carpenter and Resh as a roofing contractor at the time the murder. Nardi was found strangled to death. A third man, Troy Busta, pleaded guilty to Nardi’s murder and agreed to testify against Gondor and Resh in exchange for the prosecutor agreeing not to pursue the death penalty against him.
New Trials Ordered Years after Conviction
A Portage County Common Pleas Court jury found Gondor guilty in 1990 of involuntary manslaughter, kidnapping, and obstructing justice and sentenced him to a minimum of 10 years to a maximum of more than 50 years in prison, while Resh was convicted of murder and attempted rape and was sentenced to 15 years to life.
The Eleventh District Court of Appeals affirmed their convictions. However, in a second appeal, the two won the right to a new trial court hearing regarding evidence. At the new hearing, the trial court found the two had ineffective counsel because their attorneys didn’t recognize exculpatory evidence in the prosecutor’s file. Prosecutors objected to the finding, and the Eleventh District sided with the state. However, in 2006, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled the two had to be retried.
Resh was tried first and found not guilty. The state dismissed the charges against Gondor, and both were set free in 2007. Overturning a verdict is the first of two steps an individual must attain before being declared wrongfully imprisoned. A civil suit then must be filed and the individual must prove that no further prosecution can occur for any other illegal act related to the alleged crime that resulted in imprisonment.
The trial judge hearing the case concluded that neither Gondor nor Resh were with, or even near, Nardi when she was killed, and that they qualified as wrongfully convicted.
Additional Compensation Paid
In addition to paying each of the two men $1.45 million, the settlement includes paying $1.1 million to attorneys Mark B. Marein and Steven L. Bradley for professional fees and expenses incurred representing the men, and about $18,000 for the services of experts who were involved in the litigation.
The Court of Claims is given original jurisdiction to hear and determine all civil actions filed against the state of Ohio and its agencies.To access information on other cases visit the Court of Claims website.
Please note: Opinion summaries are prepared by the Office of Public Information for the general public and news media. Opinion summaries are not prepared for every opinion, but only for noteworthy cases. Opinion summaries are not to be considered as official headnotes or syllabi of court opinions. The full text of this and other court opinions are available online.