Grand jury reviews charges against corrections officers

By Jordan Cohen


The Trumbull County grand jury is reviewing charges against three county jail corrections officers suspected of illegally eavesdropping on their superior officers in the sheriff’s department, according to Sheriff Thomas Altiere.

The three — Timothy Billock, 45, Robert Rihel Jr., 46, and Barbara Ruggieri, 45 — have been on paid administrative leave since Nov. 3 as required by their union’s contract with the county.

Altiere said the three are accused of activating an intercom to clandestinely listen to conversations of their superiors on several occasions.

The sheriff, who said such eavesdropping is considered a criminal offense, called in the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation, which has conducted its probe over a period of several months.

Information from BCI’s investigation has been turned over to the county prosecutor.

Rihel and Billock have been corrections officers since 1998. Ruggieri was hired in 2009.

Should the grand jury return indictments, the sheriff’s office likely would change the status to unpaid leave. That was the case with another corrections officer, Sarah Graham of Howland, whose status was changed from paid to unpaid leave after she was indicted on drug-related charges last month.

The charges against Graham were not connected with her work at the jail, officials said.

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