Frank Fregiato believes he changed lives as a Belmont County Northern Division Court judge, and he plans to continue doing so as the county's new common pleas court judge.
Fregiato, 60, of St. Clairsville was appointed by Ohio Gov. John Kasich to succeed retiring common pleas court Judge Jennifer Sargus. Accepting the full-time position means he will step down from both the division court bench and his law practice at Fregiato, Myser and Davies in Bridgeport.
Fregiato's program that took court proceedings to Belmont County's high schools during the school year also has been suspended, Fregiato said.
The public is invited to see him officially sworn in to the new job at 2 p.m. Aug. 9 at the courthouse. Fregiato will preside in the courtroom now used by Sargus and will hear his first cases there on Aug. 12.
"As Northern Division Court judge, I believe I have made differences in people's lives," Fregiato said. "When you do that, you improve the community."
Fregiato was president of his class at Martins Ferry High School and received his undergraduate and law degrees from Ohio State University. He began practicing law at the firm that now bears his name in 1977. He was appointed to the Northern Division Court bench in 1997 by then-Gov. George Voinovich.
Shortly after becoming a judge, Fregiato established the program that took his court each month to one Belmont County high school. Between cases, Fregiato addressed students, explaining legal actions and pointing to the impact of alcohol and drug abuse on criminal activity.
Fregiato doesn't know if the program will return in the future.
Fregiato travels frequently to Italy and is involved with the Bellaire Sons of Italy. In 2002, he was named the Upper Ohio Valley Italian Festival Italian-American of the Year. He and his wife, Cynthia, reside in St. Clairsville. They have two adult children and two grandsons.