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County mechanic suspended in bomb episode



Published: Sat, February 23, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The suspect says he is innocent and will file another lawsuit against the county.

By BOB JACKSON

VINDICATOR COURTHOUSE REPORTER

YOUNGSTOWN -- A mechanic suspected of planting a drain cleaner bomb at the Mahoning County Engineer's Office has been suspended.

But Pete C. Nittoli Jr. says he is innocent and the accusation against him is part of a vendetta against him.

"It wasn't me," said Nittoli, 36, of Coral Sea Drive. "I had nothing to do with this."

City police were called to the engineer's office on Bears Den Road earlier this week after employees reported finding a plastic bottle filled with aluminum balls and a liquid. Arson investigators confiscated the device and are checking to see what was in it.

"No matter what it was, it caused some panic and concern around here," said Engineer Richard Marsico.

"If he thinks he's being set up, then it's by his fellow union members, not by us, because that's who reported this," Marsico said. "We didn't do any of this."

What was reported: According to police reports, another employee saw Nittoli shake up the bottle, place it in the shop area at the road department and run away. The bottle started to expand but did not explode. Another employee picked it up and put it on Nittoli's tool box, the report says.

The incident happened Feb. 15, but it was not reported until Tuesday, which Nittoli said makes no sense.

"If they thought it was a bomb, why did another employee pick it up and move it, and not report it until five days later?" he said.

Marsico said employees didn't realize what the device was at first. Only after the foam in the bottle subsided could they see the aluminum balls, which are suspected of containing drain cleaner.

Alleges setup: Nittoli said he's being set up because Marsico and other administrative staff have a grudge against him. He was fired in December 2000 over allegations that he'd stolen tools from the department.

An arbiter reviewed the case and ordered that he be reinstated with back pay, and he went back to work in October 2001. Nittoli said the county still has not paid the money he is owed.

He filed a civil lawsuit against the county in common pleas court over his wrongful discharge. The suit is still pending, and he said he will file another one over this go-round.

bjackson@vindy.com




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