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TRUMBULL COUNTY Official seeks probe of workers' comp claim



Published: Fri, March 14, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



The truck was damaged but is back in service.

By PEGGY SINKOVICH

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

WARREN -- A Trumbull County commissioner is asking for an in-depth investigation into the workers' compensation claim of the county's maintenance director.

Because a county vehicle was involved in the crash that Tony Delmont says caused his injury, Commissioner Michael J. O'Brien says he wants the matter checked out.

"We routinely investigate all claims but since a county vehicle was used I want an in-depth investigation," O'Brien said.

Howland police records state that shortly before 2 p.m. Feb. 24, Delmont called authorities to report an accident. The reports state Delmont was westbound on North River Road when the truck slid into a fire hydrant, then into a ditch.

The report states that Delmont may have suffered "possible" injuries but does not list the injuries.

Delmont, who earns $71,081 a year, has been off work since the accident and continues to draw full pay. His initial compensation claim has been approved but is still under investigation, O'Brien said.

The state bureau of workers' compensation is expected to rule on his claim next week.

Return uncertain

Delmont's doctor has not set a date when he can return to work, officials say.

"We were supposed to get his return-to-work slip, which should state why he was off work and when he can return, but we haven't received it yet," said Jim Keating, the county's human resource director. "I called his house and asked for the slip. I'm hoping to get it in the next day or so if not sooner."

The accident occurred on a snowy day as Delmont returned from plowing the parking lot and delivering paperwork to the county 911 center in Howland, officials said.

An employee at the county's vehicle maintenance department said the Dodge truck had two flat tires, bent wheels and minor damage to the plow. The county department was able to make the repairs and the truck is back in service, officials said.

The maintenance department chief has been under scrutiny since August, when a series of Vindicator articles began detailing excessive spending and lax bookkeeping in the department. The Trumbull County Prosecutor's office, FBI and Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation subsequently launched investigations.

Delmont, who has worked for the county since 1975, has made no secret of his desire to retire. At a recent budget hearing for his 24-person department, Delmont sat behind a placard that urged commissioners to approve an early retirement plan for senior employees. The plan is on hold.




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