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Company added to probe of suppliers



Published: Sat, September 14, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The owner of Central Service and Supply said he missed a meeting with prosecutors Friday because of commitments.

By STEPHEN SIFF

and PEGGY SINKOVICH

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

WARREN -- Prosecutors have broadened their investigation of Trumbull County's purchasing to include a third company, which did about $113,000 worth of business with the county since 2000.

In a letter Friday, Prosecutor Dennis Watkins asked the county commissioners to cease buying from Central Service and Supply, a floor polishing and supply company owned by Donald Donofrio III of Brookfield.

As with Lid Chem and Tri-County Supplies, two other companies the prosecutor blackballed from selling to the county, Central Service does not list a business address on forms or have a listed telephone number, the letter to commissioners says.

"Unfortunately, we have not been able to obtain records ordinarily obtainable from other companies," Watkins wrote.

"In short, LID Chemical Inc., Tri-County Supplies Inc. refused to cooperate and provide necessary documentation and, today, after extending a reasonable period to comply with our requests, Central Service and Supply has refused to cooperate and give us the necessary business records."

The owner of Central Service said he met with prosecutors last week and provided them with his warehouse address and a list of other customers. He said he missed a meeting with prosecutors Friday because of other commitments.

"It just hurts my feelings," said Donofrio, sole proprietor of Central Service. "You have an account and it leaves. It feels bad."

Donofrio said Central Service, which specializes in waxing and buffing floors and selling floor-cleaning supplies, has five employees and just moved to a new warehouse on Hartzel Avenue.

He said the company has 137 clients, about 60 of whom are visited on a weekly basis. Customers include nursing homes and schools, he said.

The prosecutor's recommendation to commissioners "makes no sense to me," Donofrio said.

Increases

Watkins noted in the letter that in 2000, the county paid Central Service $3,300.90 and that amount "increased substantially in 2001 to $65,561.50." This year, Central Service has been paid $44,274,92.

Numerous telephone calls to the other businesses, Lid Chem and Tri-County Supplies, have not been returned. The companies, which both appear to operate out of the Canfield home of Linda and Terry Maiorana, have collected $677,000 from the county maintenance department for supplies over the past nine years.

Atty. J. Gerald Ingram, who recently began representing Lid Chem and the Maioranas, said his clients are willing to cooperate.

"I don't know what the prosecutor's office means by not cooperating," Ingram said. "I don't know of a written request to produce records. I'll check it out and we will be more than happy to reasonably cooperate."

Ingram said his clients worked with investigators from the Trumbull County Sheriff's Department until the investigators asked for bank records, which he said would have been expensive to produce and for which the county did not offer to pay.

The investigators only asked for the Maioranas' own copies of business records, said Capt. Gary Bacon, a sheriff's detective. Payment was never discussed, and the records were never furnished, he added.

Ingram said his clients are willing to give detectives any information they want. He also said LidChem is leasing a warehouse in Youngstown.

Trumbull County does not have written contracts with any of these vendors, despite state laws that generally require competitively bid contracts for purchases more than $15,000.

Commissioners say they intend to comply with the prosecutor's request until investigations are complete. Two agents from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation are also looking into the matter.

The three companies have increased sales to the county over the past 18 months by tens of thousands of dollars, with each billing the county for the same types of materials or supplies, Watkins noted in his letter to commissioners.

Furthermore, other companies apparently sell the county some of the same items, he said.

Spreading the business around was deliberate, said Tony Delmont, who makes purchasing decisions as head of the county maintenance department.

"Normally, I always did it so I didn't show favoritism," he said.




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