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AVALON SOUTH GOLF COURSE Lawyers: OE trying to collect twice



Published: Wed, July 24, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



An Ohio Edison official said the company would not seek compensation twice.

By PEGGY SINKOVICH

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

WARREN -- The city-owned golf course didn't pay its full electric bill once. Now Ohio Edison is trying to collect on the bill twice, attorneys say.

Attorneys representing Tony Joy, operator of Avalon South Golf Course, say they are shocked that the utility company is asking their client to pay $3,000 he received in discounted electricity in exchange for golf clubs because the company already got the money from a former employee.

Atty. Dick Lillie, of Cleveland, who represents Greg Petrasek, former Warren area manager for Ohio Edison, said Tuesday the company docked his client's pay $3,000, the amount Avalon South is alleged to have received in discounted electricity.

"It appears they [Ohio Edison] are double-dipping," Lillie said Tuesday.

Attys. Maridee Costanzo and Richard Schwartz, representing Joy, said he does not plan to pay the money.

Lawyer's question

Schwartz, who said he has been talking to company attorneys about Joy's bill, questioned why Ohio Edison doesn't credit Joy's account with the money it deducted from Petrasek's pay.

Petrasek resigned a few weeks ago in the wake of accusations that he traded discounted electricity for golf clubs. The utility company billed Joy.

Ralph DiNicola, director of public relations for Ohio Edison, said it's the company's policy to seek compensation from the customer who used the electricity. DiNicola declined to say if the company docked Petrasek's pay.

"We would not seek compensation twice," DiNicola said.

Costanzo said the FBI is looking into how Joy received the discounted electricity in 1999 in exchange for numerous golf clubs that went to Dave Robison, a city building official. Robison has declined to comment.

Costanzo said her client is cooperating with investigators.

No criminal charges have been filed. Schwartz said Joy thought at the time of the billings that Ohio Edison authorized the discount.

"The only payment Tony got for the clubs was the discounted electric," Schwartz said.

How this occurred

Attorneys said Petrasek and Robison went to Avalon South in 1999 and said their golf clubs were stolen. The two said they needed clubs in a hurry because they had to play in a golf outing, Joy has said.

Joy noted the two promised to pay for the clubs when they got an insurance check for the stolen ones. A few months later, Joy asked for payment and Petrasek told him it would show up on his electric bill.

Costanzo said Joy 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.




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