TRUMBULL COUNTY COMMISSIONERS Prosecutor: Suspend buying from 2 companies
An investigation into Lid Chem and Tri County Supplies began last week, the sheriff said.
By PEGGY SINKOVICHand STEPHEN SIFF
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
WARREN -- The Trumbull County prosecutor has asked county commissioners to stop doing business with two related companies that have been paid nearly $700,000 by the county maintenance department for county supplies over the past nine years.
Commissioners were notified by letter Friday that the companies are being probed.
"It is being investigated right now and ... I have no further comment," Prosecutor Dennis Watkins said.
Despite spending $677,000 with Lid Chem and Tri County Supplies, county officials say they know little about the two companies, which use the same residential address in Girard on some financial forms.
Tony Delmont, the county's maintenance department director, said he does not know where Lid Chem is or whether it has a warehouse.
Delmont ordered cleaning supplies such as furniture polish and laundry soap from the companies for use by the maintenance department and the jail maintenance staff.
"How companies do things is their own affair," said Anthony Carson Jr., the county's director of purchasing. "My goal is to get the best price for the county."
Neither company has a formal contract despite doing far more than $15,000 worth of business with the county a year.
The $15,000 figure is the threshold for competitive bidding, according to the prosecutor's office.
In the wake of Vindicator stories about the county's purchasing habits, commissioners recently ordered Carson to seek competitive bids on janitorial supplies.
Carson said his responsibility is to put together the bid package and not to deal with individual vendors.
An inquiry into Lid Chem and Tri County Supplies began last week, Sheriff Thomas Altiere said.
The sheriff said the jail ceased doing business with Lid Chem two weeks ago after The Vindicator reported there were discrepancies in the company's invoices and that it had not been awarded a contract through competitive bidding. Some of the discrepancies found were the fact there seemed to be no packing slips for a large number of the purchases that were invoiced and paid.
For example, as of last month, the maintenance department made 75 purchases from Lid Chem. However, the department has only 19 packing slips showing the Lid Chem deliveries were received.
Delmont said the slips could have been thrown out.
The Vindicator also found that a county purchase order states that the maintenance department bought five cases of toilet bowl cleaner and six cases of wood furniture polish July 1 with funds earmarked for the jail.
The purchase order says the items were received at the jail and the county paid $400.50. Altiere said the janitor at the jail said he did not order the merchandise because there is very little wood at the jail. Delmont said the merchandise was probably ordered for another department that was low on funds and placed in the jail account.
Altiere was forced to return a $1,400 campaign contribution from Lid Chem last year because county officials are not allowed to accept corporate donations.
No street address
Lid Chem, which has collected more than $70,000 in county checks so far this year, has an unlisted telephone number. It's invoices and letterhead list a post office box in Girard.
"I know very little about them but they should have more than just a P.O. box address," said Commissioner James Tsagaris.
"They should tell us more about themselves. Why don't you call them on our behalf and ask?"
On incorporation papers, Lid Chem lists Linda Maiorana of 918 Dravis Ave., Girard, as its representative.
On other paperwork, she is referred to as company president.
Tri-County Supply does business from the same single-family ranch home, according to county records.
The house is owned by Maiorana and Robert Daniluk, but is occupied by others under a life estate arrangement, according to documents on file with the county recorder's office.
This type of arrangement is typically used by parents who wish to continue living in a home after transferring ownership to their children, said Recorder Diana Marchese.
Neither Lid Chem nor Tri County Supplies owns real estate under the company names in Trumbull or Mahoning counties.
Inventory is kept at the Canfield home of Maiorana and her husband, Terry, who is listed as the sales representative, according to Mahoning County personal property tax records.
The company finished off 2001 with less then $2,000 worth of equipment and inventory, according to those tax records.
The Vindicator visited the Girard and Canfield addresses and called every hour daily this past week seeking a response from Lid Chemical.
There was no response.