TRUMBULL COUNTY BCI is asked to probe purchasing practices

One commissioner says the board was asked not to talk about the investigation.
WARREN -- The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation has been asked to look into purchasing practices at the Trumbull County maintenance department and jail.
The investigation was requested by Dennis Watkins, the county prosecutor, and Sheriff Thomas Altiere after both had members of their staffs look into the practices of Lid Chem, a cleaning supplies vendor.
Altiere said he and Watkins wrote a letter to BCI this week asking that the agency handle the investigation.
"The jail made purchases from this company, so it wouldn't be right for our office to handle the investigation," Altiere said. "We really believe it would be better for an outside agency to look into the matter."
Altiere noted the maintenance department orders the cleaning supplies for most of the jail, but the jail's cook orders cleaning supplies directly from Lid Chem.
"We don't want the public to think that anything strange is going on," Altiere said.
Watkins declined to comment because the matter is under investigation.
Last week, the prosecutor's office requested hundreds of documents related to county purchases from Lid Chem and Tri County Supplies, a related company, from the last several years.
Tri County Supplies also sells cleaning supplies, county officials said.
Officials for Lid Chem have not returned calls.
Since 1993, the companies, apparently based in the Canfield home of Terry and Linda Maiorana, collected $677,000 in county checks.
The documents requested by the prosecutor's office show what items were purchased from the company, which did not have a formal contract with the county.
In general, state law requires that contracts be awarded through competitive bidding for goods and services of more than $15,000 in a year.
Watkins asked the county commissioners not to comment on the investigation, said Commissioner James J. Tsagaris. By law, commissioners must sign off on each county purchase.
"I sure hope they don't find anything," said Commissioner Joseph Angelo, adding he thinks it's best for an outside agency to handle the matter.
"I have to respect Dennis for what he is doing," Tsagaris said. "If he wants to investigate it, that is what he should do."
Commissioner Michael O'Brien could not be reached.

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