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PURCHASING SCANDAL Sheriff testifies to grand jury



Published: Sat, May 7, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



This was the third time the sheriff has testified.

By PEGGY SINKOVICH

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

WARREN -- A special grand jury investigating the county purchasing scandal has reconvened.

Sheriff Thomas Altiere was subpoenaed and testified to the panel Friday. The sheriff spent a little more than an hour inside the grand jury room.

Grand jury proceedings are not open to the public.

"It went well," Altiere said of his time with the panel. He says he does not believe he is a target of the probe. He said because the proceedings are secret, he did not believe he could say what type of questions he was asked.

This is the third time Altiere has been asked to testify before the grand jury.

Special Prosecutor Victor V. Viglucci of Portage County declined to say who else testified or whether the grand jury would meet again soon.

Indictments

Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins started investigating the maintenance department's purchasing practices in September 2002. Since that time, seven people, including former maintenance director Tony Delmont, have been indicted.

Delmont and two vendors who sold items to the county, Barry Bonchek and Barry Jacobson, have pleaded guilty. The three will be sentenced after the investigation is completed, Trumbull County prosecutors have said.

In August, Watkins had a special prosecutor appointed to the probe to determine whether any local elected officials took part in the scam. The investigation is ongoing.

Commissioner James Tsagaris and former Commissioner Michael O'Brien, who is now the mayor of Warren, both said they were not aware the grand jury was meeting Friday.

"I didn't know anything about it and didn't even hear that anyone had been subpoenaed," Tsagaris said.

Tsagaris and O'Brien have previously been called to testify. Both have said they do not believe they are targets of the investigation.

sinkovich@vindy.com




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