Judge rejects trust removal

WARREN – Probate Judge Thomas A. Swift denied a motion Monday that sought to remove Jeff Hovanic as trustee of a family trust currently being litigated after a family member was removed as trustee.

”The court finds that the allegations are untimely, inappropriate and unfounded,” Swift wrote in his judgment entry.

An attorney involved in the case filed a response for Hovanic, calling Friday’s motion a method to ”merely harass or maliciously injure (Hovanic)” before today’s election.

Swift appointed Hovanic, a Champion Township trustee and Warren Municipal Court bailiff, to oversee the trust of Rudolph and Mary Setinsek after their son was removed from that role after questionable real estate deals involving money from the trust.

Swift also said in his entry that the son, also named Rudolph J., ”committed serious breaches of trust, failed to account to the beneficiaries, breached the Ohio Prudent Investor Act and breached his duty of loyalty.”

The entry also said the removal of Hovanic also was brought up in an oral motion and in an affidavit of disqualification of Swift in the Ohio Supreme Court. Both of those motions, filed by Setinsek’s attorney, David Engler, were denied and the probate case is continuing as the court is awaiting an accounting of funds in the trust.

A Champion police officer, also represented by Engler, also has demanded Hovanic’s removal as a trustee in Champion, citing allegations that he used his position to benefit his brother’s insurance business.

Those allegations were incorporated in a writ filed in the 11th District Court of Appeals which also was answered by attorneys for Champion Township, who questioned the timing of the filing since Hovanic is on today’s ballot in a three-way race for two positions as a township trustee.

The suit 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 the township’s health insurance plan since the remaining two trustees couldn’t agree on the motions.

And the police officer that Engler represents complained to reporters Monday that the insurance company is not paying medical bills in a timely manner.

“In light of the numerous substantive and procedural defects … one point is quite obvious; namely, the complaint was hurriedly cobbled together and filed just before the general election, so that scurrilous allegations could be made against a well-respected public official with a long and distinguished record of public service,” the answer from the township states.

Attorneys involved with the probate case call for sanctions against Engler and accuse him of filing frivolous documents ”for the sole purpose of maligning the reputation of (Hovanic) to effect his upcoming bid for re-election.”

Hovanic has documentation stating that since his brother brokered health insurance coverage long before he ever took office in 1998 he got an opinion from the Trumbull County Prosecutor’s Office that directs him to abstain from any voting and avoid any discussions over the health insurance matter.