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Eyes on the courtroom door



Published: Sat, June 4, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Much of the nation's attention is focused on a California jury room and the fate of entertainer Michael Jackson, but we've been watching and waiting far longer for the results of a Trumbull County grand jury investigation.

It appears that progress is being made in Warren and indictments that we consider overdue are about to be handed down. It is not that we don't appreciate the care that Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins and then special Prosecutor Victor Vigluicci had to take in putting together a case. We just get impatient when it takes years to a address misconduct by people who have been given the public's trust.

It has been nearly three years since Vindicator reporters discovered that Trumbull County was paying exorbitant prices for cleaning supplies and buying in quantities that dwarfed the county's needs.

The reporters found that the county paid more than $550,000 each year in 1999, 2000 and 2001 for janitorial supplies. Since the fraud was uncovered, the county has paid less than $100,000 for supplies.

Time flies

It has been a year since Tony Delmont, the county's former maintenance director, pleaded guilty to charges of theft and bribery and gave a statement saying that Trumbull County commissioners and the sheriff were aware of the scam perpetrated on the county.

Six other people have been indicted, but none have been county officials -- the people in charge of the purse strings, who either failed to recognize what was going on or were accomplices in the theft.

Warren was abuzz last week with speculation on the indictment of some of those public officials. The grand jury completed its term and neither Watkins nor Vigluicci would respond to questions about its deliberations, which are secret.

Indictments that are sealed for a few days would not be unusual in an investigation of this type, and that's what we anticipate. Any other result would be a huge disappointment.

Trumbull County is facing enormous financial challenges. While the theft certainly hurt the county's bottom line, it was not the cause of the county's implosion. Further, two of the three commissioners overseeing the county came to office after the scandal broke. Nonetheless, an on-going investigation is a distraction that officials who are attempting to get the county back on track do not need.




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