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ELECTIONS sJudge OKs request for info



Published: Wed, July 20, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



This commission looks into alleged violation of campaign finance laws.

WARREN -- Trumbull County Common Pleas Judge Peter Kontos has granted permission to a special prosecutor to provide information from grand jury proceedings to the Ohio Elections Commission.

No public officials were named in Victor V. Vigluicci's request to the court.

Vigluicci, the special prosecutor from Portage County, "may disclose information obtained during the proceedings of the September 2004 term of the Trumbull County grand jury consisting of financial records obtained by grand jury subpoena," the judge ordered.

This disclosure can only be for the purpose "of reporting possible violations" of the Ohio Revised Code to the elections commission, the judge continued.

Vigluicci could not be reached for comment.

Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins appointed Vigluicci last year to do an investigation into county purchasing. That investigation has shown that vendors were selling janitorial supplies to the county at exorbitant prices and using the proceeds for campaign contributions.

That grand jury completed its term in May. Its deliberations were secret, and no indictments naming county officials have been announced this summer.

Elections commission complaints, however, become a matter of public record once filed. This commission looks into alleged violation of campaign finance laws and can refer matters for prosecution, or decide the matter on its own.

A complaint by Vigluicci had not been received by the commission in Columbus by Tuesday afternoon.

Prior insights

Some county officials have previously had matters investigated by the elections commission.

In 2001, the commission made Sheriff Thomas Altiere's campaign committee return thousands of dollars in corporate donations and fined Altiere $2,500 for accepting the donations, as well as for keeping inaccurate campaign finance records and failing to track donors who gave less than $25.

Former Commissioner Joseph Angelo in 2003 withdrew $6,000 in cash from his campaign account and reported $4,000 was stolen. Angelo told police he believed a burglar broke into his home and stole $4,000 in campaign cash from a pair of pants hanging in his closet.

Angelo later said there was actually $6,000 in campaign money in his pants at the time, but $2,000 was in another pocket and overlooked by the thief.

He had taken the cash out of his campaign bank account to invest it in 6-month certificates of deposit and earn more interest, he said at the time. He returned money to his campaign from personal savings after being ordered to do so by the elections board.

In January 2004 the elections commission fined Commissioner James Tsagaris $150 for failing to keep a list of donors under $25, as required by law. The commissioner accepted more than $800 in corporate contributions in 2002. Evidence forwarded to the board from the Trumbull County Board of Elections indicates the money was returned.




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