Trustee fights charge

WARREN – Attorneys for Champion Trustee Jeff Hovanic are calling allegations that he used his office to improperly benefit his brother a political stunt in advance of Tuesday’s election.

Hovanic made the argument Friday in Eleventh District Court of Appeals documents responding to the allegations filed by attorneys representing township patrolman Robert Koehler that alleges the trustee used his position to benefit his brother’s business.

Hovanic’s brother, Greg, had been the broker for the township’s health insurance 2002 to 2012. The HPA and Pamela Priddy have since become the agent for the health insurance.

Koehler’s suit alleges HPA still is using health insurance brokered by Greg Hovanic.

Koehler is seeking to have Hovanic declared ineligible for office and to not count the votes he gets in Tuesday’s 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.

In their response to the allegations, Hovanic’s attorneys James F. Mathews and Gregory Beck suggested the police officer’s suit is a clearly timed effort to affect the election.

“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,” wrote Mathews.

“The complaint should be summarily dismissed, preserving the rights of all adversely affected persons and parties to seek appropriate sanctions for the misuse of this legal process,” the response continued.

In its supportive documentation, Hovanic’s legal representatives provided a 1998 letter from assistant Trumbull County prosecutor Daniel A. Thomas advising him “…not to participate in any future contract negotiations, discussions and the like, regarding health insurance benefits for township employees, involving the agency that employs your brother.”

Hovanic said he has never violated any laws during his time as a trustee.

“I’ve always worked very hard with the community’s best interest in mind and always discharged my duties to benefit the township,”‘ he said.