Suit seeks to remove Champion trustee

WARREN – A Champion Township police officer filed suit Wednesday seeking to remove Champion Trustee Jeff Hovanic from office and have the county prosecutor investigate whether Hovanic should face charges of having an unlawful interest in a public contract.

The suit – filed as original action with the 11th District Court of Appeals – accuses Hovanic of orchestrating a move that allowed his brother, Greg, to profit from the township’s health insurance program.

The suit was filed by Robert Koehler, a township patrolman for the past 26 years, who claims he and his wife along with six other township employees have had medical bills go unpaid for as long as 18 months and medical providers have started turning the bills over to a collection agency.

Koehler said in the suit that he has been embarrassed and his credit has been negatively impacted after Health Plan Administrators (HPA) refused to pay the claims in a timely manner.

Greg Hovanic has been the broker for the township’s health insurance since 2002 but resigned as the agent of record in August of 2012 while at the same time HPA and Pamela Priddy became the new agent of record, according to the suit.

But, the suit states that HPA was still using health insurance that was being brokered by Greg Hovanic.

Jeff Hovanic said shortly after the suit was filed that he hadn’t seen the complaint that was filed in Koehler’s behalf by attorney David Engler. Hovanic declined specific comments about the suit until after he was served and reviewed the document:

”I never violated any laws during my tenure. I’ve always worked very hard with the community’s best interest in mind and always discharged my duties to benefit the township,” Hovanic said.

”I believe since I’ve done a good job that’s been confirmed by the voters who elected me to four consecutive terms. I look forward to their support,” said Hovanic, who is up for re-election as a trustee Nov. 5.

The writ sought by Koehler through the appellate court seeks to have Hovanic ineligible for office and to not count the votes he gets in the election.

The suit also claims Hovanic’s absence at meetings in August and September of 2011 resulted in motions that died for lack of a second and allowed the trustee’s brother to continue receiving commissions as the broker for township’s health insurance plan since Trustees Robert Farmer and William Templeton couldn’t agree on the motions.

The suit also accuses Hovanic and Farmer of voting at an Oct. 30, 2012 meeting for a HPA bid that was only the third lowest bid among six insurance companies. The suit says Hovanic failed to abstain from the voting despite the fact that his brother was involved in the bid process.