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TRUMBULL PURCHASING SCANDAL Delmont loses workers comp benefits



Published: Fri, November 5, 2004 @ 12:00 a.m.



His retirement account has been frozen.

By STEPHEN SIFF

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

WARREN -- Tony Delmont, former maintenance director for Trumbull County, has been pushed off workers' compensation.

After a hearing in Youngstown last month, the Ohio Industrial Commission ruled Delmont has reached maximum medical recovery from a 2003 workplace accident and terminated his benefits. He was receiving $2,852 a month tax-free on the claim, despite having been fired by county commissioners after an indictment for bribery, theft in office and money laundering. He pleaded guilty in April.

Although he will no longer receive workers' compensation, Delmont remains eligible for retirement benefits through the Public Employees Retirement System, officials say. Access to his account, however, has been frozen, officials say.

Retirement benefits

Under the plea agreement reached with prosecutors, Delmont can keep his retirement benefits if he cooperates fully in the ongoing probe. He also agreed to repay $50,000 to the county.

The restitution has not been made, assistant county prosecutor Chris Becker said.

After 30 years service, PERS offers public employees up to 85 percent of their salaries, officials say. Delmont won't be eligible for the full amount, however, because he has only 28 years service as a county employee.

Prosecutors say that in August 2002, Delmont used a $3,500 bribe from heating repairman Dennis Pirko to buy PERS credit. Pirko faces felony theft and bribery charges in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court. Prosecutors say Pirko's one-man company, Northern Engineering, billed Trumbull County $327,000 for parts and labor since 1997. Pirko is free on $50,000 bond.

Injury claim

Delmont's workers' comp claim originated from a snowplow accident in February 2003, just as a local grand jury was beginning to look into purchasing practices by his department.

He claimed that he injured his back, neck, arm and leg when the county snowplow he was driving drifted into a ditch. Plowing was not part of Delmont's regular duties, and he was not hospitalized for the injuries.

In an affidavit with his guilty plea, Delmont said that county commissioners and the county sheriff were aware of a scheme that defrauded taxpayers of $400,000 through excessive and unwarranted maintenance purchases.

Two salesmen have pleaded guilty to participating in the scheme.

siff@vindy.com




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