Trumbull County engineer targeted in lawsuit

WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) — Trumbull County Engineer Randy Smith is being targeted in a lawsuit that seeks his removal from office.

The suit was filed Thursday by Attorney David Engler on behalf of engineer’s office union steward Kendell Lee Stauffer Jr. of Girard. The lawsuit claims seven counts of misconduct in office by Smith, including having an unlawful interest in a public contract, improper employee activity, filing false financial disclosure statements and mail fraud to intentionally deprive the public of honest service.

The focus of the lawsuit is on Smith and an associate named Donald Barzak. Engler said the two owned property together before Smith hired Barzak in the engineer’s office.

“The Ohio Revised Code says you cannot do business with a business associate with government money. They own property together, they receive rental incomes, they have a mortgage together. He then hired his associate and gave him a raise,” Engler said.

A press release from Engler provides a summary of the counts against Smith, including:

  • Smith hired his business partner, Don Barzak, shortly after taking office, giving him a position as Director of Governmental Affairs and Special Projects at a salary of $62,900. Smith and Barzak jointly own investment properties in Trumbull County.
  • Smith unlawfully engaged in a public contract. While serving as county engineer, Smith was hired by Trumbull County Health Commissioner Dr. James Enyeart to perform work as a private engineer.
  • Smith filed financial disclosure forms with the Ohio Ethics Commission in 2011 stating that as of Aug. 16, 2011, Randy Smith, Inc. was no longer in operation yet in February 2012, Smith, Inc. received $6,000 from the Trumbull County Health Department for a review of the LaFarge landfill in Lordstown.
  • Smith’s use of mail or wire transfer of fraudulent disclosure statements to the Ohio Ethics Commission constitutes mail fraud.

Smith said in a telephone interview that he had not seen the complaint but he is familiar with Engler and Stauffer. He said he will issue a release after he decides whether to hire an attorney or represent himself.

To see a copy of the lawsuit, click here.

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