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MAHONING COUNTY Sherlock finds hotel credit receipt



Published: Wed, November 7, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Two state agencies investigate the commissioner's use of county credit cards.

By DAVID SKOLNICK

VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- Mahoning County received a $91.84 credit from its credit-card company for an overcharge made by a Cincinnati hotel during a stay there last year by Commissioner Vicki Allen Sherlock.

Sherlock's office produced a copy of a statement Tuesday from the American Express card issued to the county in the name of Thomas Smith, clerk of the commissioners, showing the credit. Sherlock used Smith's county credit card on trips she took in August 2000 to Marietta and Cincinnati.

Because of questions raised about those trips as well as one she took to Philadelphia and a canceled one to Chicago using county credit cards, commissioners are planning to eliminate most of the 51 county credit cards.

State probes: Also, Sherlock's use of the cards is being investigated by the Ohio Auditor's Office and the state ethics commission. Sherlock said she is confident she will be cleared in the investigations.

County travel records showed that Sherlock -- along with her boyfriend Leo Jennings -- checked into a Marietta motel, charging a stay for $52.22 to the county Aug. 22, 2000. Records also show a $333.47 bill for a stay at a Cincinnati hotel from Aug. 22, 2000, to Aug. 25, 2000. Also, commissioners approved her Marietta trip at a meeting she attended Aug. 24, 2000.

Sherlock said she and Jennings never spent the night at the Marietta motel, opting to check out early to go to Cincinnati. Also, Sherlock said the Cincinnati hotel charged her for Aug. 24, 2000, when she checked out a day earlier -- and has produced documents supporting her statements.

The American Express statement shows a $91.84 credit, issued Nov. 30, 2000, on Smith's credit card from the Cincinnati hotel. Before providing the American Express statement, Sherlock had said she was not sure if the credit card company had reimbursed the county for the extra day.

skolnick@vindy.com




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