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WARREN FBI serves subpoena to city for nine checks



Published: Tue, June 19, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The auditor said he doesn't know why the FBI wants copies of the checks.

By AMANDA C. DAVIS and PEGGY SINKOVICH

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

WARREN -- The FBI is looking at city hall for canceled checks relating to the demolition of Hotel Regency.

Auditor David Griffing and Treasurer Patricia Leon-Games confirmed this morning that agents served the city with a federal subpoena asking for nine checks.

Leon-Games said Griffing's office contacted her Monday, requesting that she pull copies of eight canceled checks and one original.

She said she did not talk directly with the agents and she would not elaborate.

"We got the checks that they requested and we called to let them know that they can pick them up," Griffing said, adding he's not sure when the agents would pick up the information or why they want it.

"As far as I can tell it all relates to the Regency and that investigation," Griffing said.

Mayor Hank Angelo was unavailable this morning.

Federal indictment: In April, James Matash of Centennial Drive, Vienna, owner of M & amp;M Demolition Inc., was indicted by a federal grand jury in Cleveland. He is accused of agreeing to give money to an unidentified Warren official so his company would get the hotel demolition contract.

He is free on $50,000 bond after pleading guilty to charges of extortion and program fraud.

M & amp;M has handled many Warren jobs, including demolition of the hotel, which was destroyed by fire in 1999. Officials said arson was the cause.

The indictment accused Matash of agreeing to pay $5,000 to the public official to ensure he got the contract for $108,421.

The official has not been identified, but Angelo has said that person no longer works for the city.

A portion of the demolition's cost, $83,421, was paid for with a federal Community Development Block Grant.

City council voted at that time against using CDBG money, but lawmakers were told the formal bidding process was bypassed because of emergency safety concerns and because M & amp;M was already paid to do the work.

Matash was fired in 1996 as an equipment operator with the water department for using city time and property to facilitate the retaining and disposing of stolen property.

FBI probe: The FBI took 10 sets of records from departments in the past year, including engineering, building and planning; community development; and the auditor's office.

The FBI also pulled a file from municipal court dealing with a traffic charge against Trumbull County Sheriff Thomas Altiere's son.

The FBI and city police are investigating missing money in the water department after a special state audit issued a finding for recovery of $26,036 against the department's former head cashier.

The audit hints that a scam could be responsible.

Water office manager Richard Griffing is on suspension without pay through July 9 because the city found him guilty of gross neglect of duty, dishonesty and nonfeasance regarding the missing money.




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