Engineer: Ex-official should pay

By Ed Runyan


Randy Smith, the current Trumbull County engineer, wants former engineer David DeChristofaro to pay $114,000 that Smith feels DeChristofaro owes the engineer’s office for legal expenses.

The costs are associated with settlement of three lawsuits relating to former employees that have cost Trumbull County around $1 million.

Smith wrote a letter to Prosecutor Dennis Watkins on Oct. 11, asking that his office take steps to recover $114,000 from DeChristo-faro that has been paid by the engineer’s office to resolve the lawsuits.

The county has settled suits against Amanda Latell and Matt Dohy — relatives of DeChristofaro’s predecessor, John Latell; and Nicole Klingeman.

The settlements cost the county and its insurance carrier about $1 million, including $500,000 to Klingeman and her attorneys.

The county engineer’s office paid the deductible amount of $25,000 for each lawsuit and also paid unspecificed “damages” of $20,000 in the Amanda Latell lawsuit and miscellanous attorney fees to Atty. Charles Richards, Smith said.

The lawsuits said Amanda Latell, Matt Dohy and Nicole Klingeman were laid off in violation of their civil rights Jan. 5, 2009, DeChristofaro’s first day in office.

DeChristofaro resigned as county engineer in July 2011 after the Ohio Ethics Commission and Ohio Attorney General’s Office investigated whether DeChristofaro illegally used county resources, equipment and labor for political purposes during his time as county engineer.

Smith’s letter says documents in the civil cases indicate that DeChristofaro and others schemed before DeChristofaro took office to lay off the three employees for political reasons.

Documents “would suggest the actions taken were of a personal nature” and that coverage by the county’s insurance carrier was “afforded with specific reservation of rights,” Smith’s letter says.

DeChristofaro, when reached Monday by phone, said he had not seen the letter and would have no comment.

Bill Danso, assistant Trumbull County prosecutor, said the prosecutor’s office cannot comment on matters of this type because of the requirement that the prosecutor’s office not discuss matters of “attorney-client privilege” since the county engineer’s office is a client of the prosecutor’s office.

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