A former public works department official who was found guilty of improperly receiving $3,341.46 from the city in education-pay bonus — and who later had the conviction sealed — is suing Youngstown.
Carmen S. Conglose Jr., the ex-deputy director of public works, filed a civil lawsuit against the city. City officials contend Conglose should be barred from holding any public office or public employment for seven years from the date of his June 13, 2008, conviction. That ban was part of Conglose’s sentence for the misdemeanor.
Judge Elizabeth A. Kobly of Youngstown Municipal Court sealed Conglose’s conviction a year later. At a hearing that led to the sealing of Conglose’s record, the city didn’t object to sealing the conviction but contended his seven-year ban should remain, said city Prosecutor Jay Macejko.
“You can seal the conviction, but the prohibition remains,” Macejko said.
Scott C. Essad, Conglose’s attorney, disagrees.
The judge’s decision to seal Conglose’s conviction means the seven-year ban is void, Essad said.
But Conglose, who now works in the private sector, is suing the city “just to make sure,” Essad said, even though “he doesn’t have plans to return to the public sector or run for office.”
The civil suit was filed in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court and assigned to Judge James C. Evans.
Between 1999 and 2007, Conglose received an annual education bonus the city gives to those with college degrees.
A fake 1986 bachelor of science degree from Youngstown State University was in Conglose’s personnel file at the city’s finance department for years.
Conglose first said he had no idea how the fake degree got into his file.
But it was later discovered by The Vindicator that on July 30, 2003, Conglose testified in a sworn court deposition that he earned that exact degree.
Conglose had said he was entitled to the education bonus because his 1990 surveyor’s license was viewed by the state as equivalent to a four-year college degree. That is something that was disputed in 2008 by the head of the state agency that awards those licenses.
Conglose retired Dec. 31, 2007, from his public-works job that paid $93,132 annually in base salary.
On March 3, 2008, Mayor Jay Williams hired Conglose, a 31-year city employee, as the part-time traffic coordinator with an annual salary up to $42,577.
Shortly after, Williams and The Vindicator received anonymous letters about the degree. The mayor then questioned Conglose about the fake degree March 14 with Conglose resigning that day.
After the Ohio auditor’s office informed Conglose in May 2008 that it was going to issue a finding for recovery against him, Conglose repaid the city $3,341.46, the education-bonus money he received between 1999 and 2007.
Macejko said he doesn’t know why Conglose is suing the city because the former city official “can truthfully answer ‘no, I’m not convicted of a crime’” on a job application with a public agency.
The only way anyone would know about the contested ban, Macejko said, is “from memory.”
In the lawsuit, Essad wrote, “Of course the public memory and press coverage cannot be expunged, but they are not among the factors considered” under state law.