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Former auditor blasts mayor



Published: Sat, May 11, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Mayor Melfi said the state audits speak for themselves.

By TIM YOVICH

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

GIRARD -- Former city auditor Sam Lamancusa is accusing Mayor James J. Melfi of playing politics with two state audits critical of Lamancusa.

"There is no other conclusion other than this entire matter has been made political by the mayor," Lamancusa said in a statement issued Friday.

State auditor Jim Petro issued 26 procedural findings against the city Thursday in 1999 and 2000 audits of the city's handling of money. The audits do not seek the recovery of any funds, nor do they say that any is missing.

The audits stress that the city auditor is responsible for assuring funds are not overdrawn. Eighteen funds were in the red in 2000.

The audit also pointed out that money borrowed by the city and paid out was not reflected in monthly financial reports.

As auditor, Lamancusa said that everything he did was for the betterment of the city.

"I did everything possible to fulfill the duties of auditor without making political issues a part of my office," he asserted.

Lamancusa resigned his city position in February 2001 to become office manager of the Trumbull County Treasurer's Office.

Accuses press, mayor

"If the press and Mayor Melfi choose to interpret this audit report as placing the entire blame on Sam Lamancusa and if that satisfies them, there is not a whole lot that I can do to stop that," he said.

Melfi said in response Friday that the findings were not issued by him, but rather the state auditor.

"If Lamancusa takes exception to the audits, he can take them up with Petro," Melfi said.

Lamancusa said he has no intention of getting into a "war of words" in the press with Melfi. "Feeding into public finger-pointing only harms the city that I am so proud of. It will not resolve any issues in the city. However, I will let the public decide. See you in your next election, Mayor Melfi," Lamancusa said.

Melfi will run for re-election to a second term in next year's primary election.

"The audits speak for themselves. If Mr. Lamancusa is upset, I wish him well," Melfi countered.

Lamancusa said he takes exception with some findings in the audits. He pointed out that some findings could have been resolved if he had been asked to attend the state auditor's exit meeting with city officials.

For example, the 2000 audit pointed out that an X-ray machine for municipal court was purchased without bidding.

Lamancusa said he first obtained a law director's opinion approving of the expenditure before he paid for it.

yovich@vindy.com




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