TRUMBULL COUNTY 2 testify before grand jury in probe of purchasing



The mayor said the grand jury questions were routine.
By PEGGY SINKOVICH
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
WARREN -- A special Trumbull County grand jury, investigating county maintenance department purchases, heard additional testimony from a current and former county commissioner.
Mayor Michael O'Brien, a former commissioner, and Commissioner James Tsagaris testified Friday. Grand jury proceedings are not open to the public.
"They basically just asked questions about campaign finance reports," said O'Brien, who spent about 15 minutes inside the closed-door hearing room. He said he was not asked about any specific items on his report.
"It was just basic, routine questions, nothing out of the ordinary," the mayor said.
Tsagaris, flanked by his attorney, Matthew Blair, smiled as he walked inside the grand jury room but declined to comment. Tsagaris spent more than 30 minutes inside the grand jury room.
A maintenance employee was also called to testify.
Prosecutor Dennis Watkins and Chris Becker, an assistant Trumbull County prosecutor, declined to comment.
Subpoenas
In June, subpoenas were issued for the campaign finance records of O'Brien, Tsagaris and Sheriff Thomas Altiere.
Tsagaris has appeared four times before the county grand jury investigating allegations of theft and bribery in the county maintenance department.
O'Brien and Altiere have said investigators asked for copies of campaign finance records from 1998 to now.
Prosecutors say Tony Delmont, as maintenance director, spent more on cleaning supplies than necessary in exchange for bribes from vendors.
Pleaded guilty
He has pleaded guilty to bribery, money laundering and theft-in-office charges. In a hearing last year before Delmont's termination by the county, prosecutors said he stole about $400,000 from the county since 1998.
In an affidavit filed with the court, Delmont said that he was ordered by county commissioners and the county sheriff to take part in the maintenance supply scheme and that he passed on much of his proceeds to higher-ups.
Commissioners and Altiere have denied those allegations.
So far, five people have been indicted in the case.
One vendor, Barry Jacobson of Envirochemical Inc. in Bedford Heights, said in a sworn statement that Delmont said some of the bribes would be distributed to other county officials. No other county officials have been charged.
Jacobson pleaded guilty to bribing Delmont and helping him steal taxpayer funds.
Sentencing for both Delmont and Jacobson has been postponed until the investigation is complete.
sinkovich@vindy.com

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