Tony Delmont said he doesn't remember making donations to the sheriff's campaign.
By STEPHEN SIFF
and PEGGY SINKOVICH
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
WARREN -- Trumbull County maintenance director Tony Delmont and his wife, Karen, gave $1,100 to Sheriff Thomas Altiere over a four-year period, bank records for the sheriff's election campaign show.
Three of the five checks to Altiere from the Delmonts' joint checking account were not listed on his campaign finance reports.
They are, however, listed on bank records subpoenaed and entered into evidence at an Ohio Elections Commission hearing last year.
Two of the checks, signed by Karen Delmont, were made out to "cash."
Delmont, who was in charge of buying janitorial and other supplies for the county jail, which is run by the sheriff, was suspended from making purchases earlier this week while investigators look into his department's dealings with several companies.
He said he does not remember making donations to Altiere and does not think he donated to any other political campaigns.
"I don't know why they gave me the money, but they probably came to [a fund-raiser] I had and I think she wrote the check out to cash because she didn't know who to make the checks out to," said Altiere.
While two checks were made out to cash, the other three are made out to Altiere's election campaign.
Altiere also accepted two checks for $500 each from Lid Chem in 1999, although one of the checks was listed as coming from company owner Terry Maiorana, bank records show.
Altiere was ultimately required to return the other Lid Chem donation because candidates for county office are not permitted to take donations from corporations.
Lid Chem and Tri-County Supplies, which have no street addresses or listed phone numbers, have been selling supplies to the county without going through the bidding process.
In early August, The Vindicator began reporting on questionable purchasing practices in Trumbull County. The prosecutor's office and agents from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation have joined the investigation.
An analysis by The Vindicator found that Delmont authorized expenditures far higher than what other county jails spend on janitorial supplies.
"There are some glaring purchases that are, to me, ludicrous," said Michael O'Brien, a county commissioner.
On Tuesday, O'Brien said Delmont explained to him that the Trumbull County jail, which generally houses about 330 prisoners, needs 100 rolls of toilet paper per day.
Last year, Delmont ordered $138,000 worth of supplies for the jail.
By comparison, Mahoning County spent $55,000 on janitorial supplies last year for two jails that house about twice as many prisoners.
Workers from other departments, under the direction of Prosecutor Dennis Watkins, are in the process of inventorying supply rooms to try to determine if items that were paid for were ever delivered.