Process to fill unexpired term of Trumbull coroner will include public vote in November
By Ed Runyan
The Ohio Ethics Commission said Wednesday that “significant restrictions” in ethics laws may prohibit Dr. Phillip Malvasi from serving as Trumbull County coroner while continuing as the county jail doctor.
The opinion letter says ethics laws “may either absolutely prohibit, or severely limit, your ability to provide medical services to the county jail if you are elected county coroner.”
Dr. Humphrey Germaniuk, the former coroner, died April 20.
The opinion says Dr. Malvasi also would need to be able to “withdraw as coroner from conducting or supervising any autopsies or investigations into the death of any inmate who was under your care. These duties must be performed by someone who is not appointed or supervised by you.”
The letter says Dr. Malvasi would have to meet four requirements to have the contract for jail medical care while also coroner.
Among them are that the medical services he provides are “unobtainable elsewhere for the same or lower cost” or that the medical care is provided “as part of a ‘continuing course of dealing’” established before he became coroner.
Another requirement is that the medical care is “either preferential to or the same as that accorded to other customers or clients in similar transactions.”
Another is that the “entire transaction is conducted at arm’s length with full knowledge by the political subdivision ... of the interest of the public official and the public official takes no part in the deliberations or decision” of the coroner’s office regarding the medical services.
Meanwhile, the Trumbull County Board of Elections said Wednesday that the process to select the next Trumbull County coroner will involve one or more people running for the position in the November general election.
Two people have applied to be appointed at 5 p.m. today when the Trumbull County Democratic Party Central Committee meets at Enzo’s Restaurant on Elm Road for a vote.
Dr. Malvasi of Howland is one of the two. He has a Niles medical practice. The other is Dr. Thomas James of Vienna, who has a Howland medical practice and was appointed interim county coroner.
Dr. Germaniuk named Dr. James deputy coroner Jan. 4 when Dr. Germaniuk was admitted to the hospital.
But whichever person is appointed Thursday to serve as coroner will be guaranteed to have the position only until the November election.
Alan Shaker, deputy director of the Trumbull County Board of Elections, said the Democratic and Republican parties in Trumbull County will both have the opportunity to select someone to run for the position in the November general election.
Whoever wins the November election will serve as coroner the final two years of Dr. Germaniuk’s term, Shaker said.