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TRUMBULL COUNTY Maintenance director appears at court hearing

By Peggy Sinkovich

Thursday, September 25, 2003

Delmont's appearance before the special grand jury lasted just six minutes.
& lt;a & gt;By PEGGY SINKOVICH & lt;/a & gt;and STEPHEN SIFF
WARREN -- It's been months since Trumbull County's maintenance director has walked inside a county building.
There was no glad-handing and back-slapping when Tony Delmont returned Wednesday, this time to the grand jury room in the courthouse, flanked by attorneys.
The gregarious 28-year county employee, former bar owner and personal friend to seemingly everyone in county politics for once wasn't talking.
Since February -- just a few days before the snow plow accident that landed Delmont on workers' compensation -- a special grand jury has been hearing evidence that his department has been spending money excessively.
Prosecutors harvested the first fruit of the investigation last week.
Salesman's plea
Barry Jacobson, a salesman and co-owner of a company that's done $900,000 worth of business with Delmont's county maintenance department in the last six years, pleaded guilty to bribing Delmont with "tens of thousands of dollars" for the privilege.
Jacobson, of Envirochemical, swore that Delmont told him the bribe money would be handed off to political candidates and elected officials.
Attorneys Robert Shaker and Danny Thomas Jr. ushered Delmont through a line of reporters and TV cameras and into the grand jury room Wednesday.
"No comment," Shaker said.
The door closed, then opened again six minutes later.
The same wedge of people swung around reporters waiting in the hall and headed straight down the stairs to the doors.
Delmont, dressed in a black sports coat, smiled and winked but declined to talk.
Not charged
Delmont, who earns $71,081 annually as head of the county maintenance department, has not been charged with a crime.
His bosses, the county commissioners, put him on unpaid leave last week, a change in status that likely will not affect his ability to draw workers' compensation, officials have said.
Grand jury proceedings are secret, and neither Delmont nor his attorneys would say if he talked or declared his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
Delmont was at least the second county employee to appear before the grand jury Wednesday.
Earlier, Kathy Thompson -- who was laid off from her job at the county child-support department earlier this year because of a county budget shortfall -- testified about an inventory she was asked to conduct after published reports detailed excessive spending in the maintenance department.
She declined to be specific about her testimony.
Since Delmont was removed from making purchasing decisions, the county's expenditures on janitorial supplies have dropped from about $400,000 a year to about $45,000 this year.
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