Workers to testify on buying practices

The county's human resources director also has been asked to testify before the grand jury.
& lt;a & gt;By PEGGY SINKOVICH & lt;/a & gt;
WARREN -- Trumbull County garage and maintenance department employees have been subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury about their department's purchasing practices, officials say.
The employees are expected to appear Feb. 20. The subpoenas do not state what the employees may be asked, officials added.
Prosecutors declined to comment, saying that grand jury hearings are not public.
Since the end of last year, a county grand jury has been hearing evidence about county purchasing practices.
An investigation by the county prosecutor, prompted by a series of Vindicator articles, found excessive spending on all sorts of cleaning supplies and a bookkeeping system that did not ensure that items paid for ever actually arrived.
As a result of the investigation, Prosecutor Dennis Watkins asked county commissioners to stop doing business with a handful of companies that did not have street addresses and were slow to produce business records.
Director also asked
Also asked to testify before the grand jury Feb. 20 was James Keating, the county's human resources director. He declined to say who asked him to appear.
"I would have to guess, and it is only a guess, that I will be asked to testify to the accuracy of a job description and a person's job duties," said Keating, who is not directly involved in buying supplies.
Commissioner James Tsagaris said he did not receive a subpoena but is glad the grand jury is meeting.
"I hope they get this wrapped up quickly," Tsagaris added.
Last month, Judge Andrew Logan of common pleas court granted Watkins' request to allow the grand jury that was seated in September to stay on for up to five months to continue hearing evidence.
Grand jury terms generally run four months. The September jury's term should have expired in December.
Sheriff Thomas Altiere and Watkins also asked the state Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation in September to investigate questionable purchasing by county workers. That investigation continues, county officials said.
The state auditor's office and the FBI also have joined the probe.
ON B8: A panel that developed improvements to the way Trumbull County purchases janitorial supplies is setting its sights on postage costs.

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