By PEGGY SINKOVICH
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
WARREN -- Attorneys representing the operator of Avalon South Golf Course say their client is not going to pay Ohio Edison for electricity he allegedly got at a discounted rate in exchange for golf clubs.
Attorneys Maridee Costanzo and Richard Schwartz, who represent Tony Joy, say they don't believe their client owes the utility company $3,000.
Costanzo said two days after The Vindicator reported that Ohio Edison's regional manager resigned in the wake of accusations that he traded discounted electricity for golf clubs, the utility company asked Joy for payment.
The story ran Friday.
Costanzo and Schwartz said the FBI is investigating allegations that Greg Petrasek, former Warren area manager for Ohio Edison, gave Joy discounted electric bills in 1999 in exchange for numerous golf clubs that went to Dave Robison, a city building official.
Ohio Edison officials said it is not the company's policy to give reduced or free electric.
Robison has declined to comment.
Petrasek could not be reached, but his attorney, Dick Lillie of Cleveland, said he and his client are investigating the allegations.
"A man from Ohio Edison called me Monday and said that on my next bill I will notice that they are now asking for the $3,000," Joy said. "I didn't know what to say to him. I was shocked that they called and asked for the money."
FBI agents have been questioning city officials and Joy, who has operated the city-owned course since 1989, about the electric bills, Costanzo said. She noted that her client is cooperating.
No criminal charges have been filed.
Schwartz said Joy thought at the time of the billings Ohio Edison authorized the discount.
"That was the only payment I received for the clubs," Joy said.
Schwartz and Constanzo said if Ohio Edison pursues payment, they will file a lawsuit.
"If someone steals money from me to pay a credit card bill, I don't think the credit card company is going to give me my money back," Schwartz said.
Costanzo said her client is scheduled to testify in front of a federal grand jury soon.
The grand jury convened last month and began hearing testimony concerning, among other things, construction of a clubhouse at the course, officials said.
Costanzo said the FBI also has discussed with Joy loans he got to build the clubhouse.