TRUMBULL COUNTY Maintenance officials should not order supplies, prosecutor says
Two more companies have been added to the prosecutor's watch list.
By PEGGY SINKOVICH
and STEPHEN SIFF
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
WARREN -- The county maintenance director and his assistant should be temporarily relieved from any responsibility for ordering supplies, the Trumbull County prosecutor says.
In a letter Friday, Dennis Watkins asked county commissioners to cease all purchases of janitorial supplies for two weeks to allow an inventory to be taken by employees borrowed from other departments.
When purchasing resumes, Watkins requests it take place under the supervision of Roselyn Ferris, the county administrator and clerk.
The prosecutor said two or three other people should share with her the responsibility of ordering supplies and verifying their arrival.
"I believe this would expedite the investigation and insure that the full truth is developed," Watkins wrote. "Obviously, it is unfair to innocent employees not to have the air cleared as quickly as possible."
Prosecutors and officers from the state Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation have been looking into purchasing by the county maintenance department for several weeks since The Vindicator first reported questionable practices by the county in early August.
On Wednesday, commissioners followed another of Watkins' recommendations and ordered maintenance department officials to buy only from companies selected through the state purchasing program.
Tony Delmont, the maintenance department director, could not be reached. His assistant is Patti Patros.
The prosecutor's recommendation will likely be acted upon Monday, said Commissioner Michael O'Brien. Commissioners James Tsagaris and Joseph J. Angelo Jr. could not be reached.
In Friday's letter, Watkins also told commissioners "serious questions have arisen" concerning two more companies, Envirochemical Inc. and Kinzua Environmental, both of which sell janitorial supplies to the county.
Officials from the two Cleveland companies could not be reached.
Kinzua did $38,154 worth of business with the county last year; Envirochemical did $161,844 worth.
Watkins wrote in the letter that on Friday, Ernie Cook, chief deputy at the sheriff's department, complained about a July 12 order from Envirochemical.
"He [Cook] stated that a Vindicator reporter approached him regarding the purchase and wanted to know what the sheriff's department knew about it," Watkins' letter stated.
"Chief Cook indicated that he knew nothing about it. Chief Cook talked to sheriff's office employees and found a can of the product.
"In short, he told me that he would never purchase spray glass cleaner for nearly $8 a can. The county paid $191 on July 25, 2002, for two cases of cleaner, which contained a total of 24 cans, 12 per case."
The companies join Lid Chem Inc. and Tri-County Supplies, two companies that have no listed phone number and operate from the same Canfield home, and Central Service and Supply, of Brookfield, on the prosecutor's watch list. In a letter to commissioners, Watkins said that officials from these companies did not cooperate with his investigation and refused to furnish business records.
Lid Chem and Tri-County Supplies have collected $800,000 in county checks through the maintenance department since 1993.
Central Service and Supply has made $113,000 from the county since 2000.