Engineer’s Office affidavit unsealed

WARREN – The oil and gas lease agreements with BP that earned more than $390,000 for Trumbull County Engineer Randy Smith are part of what investigators claim is an illegal conflict of interest, according to an affidavit used to search the Engineer’s Office Thursday.

The documents unsealed Friday detail the alleged conflict: Smith, who noted the income from BP on his 2011 Financial Disclosure Statement, is responsible for regulatory compliance and oversight of oil and gas companies operating on Trumbull County roads, including BP, through road use maintenance agreements.

The agreements, commonly known as RUMAs protect against road damage caused by heavy equipment used by drilling companies or other contractors in the industry.

The affidavit and inventory lists of items taken from Smith’s North River Road office and the Trumbull County Data Processing Department in the county administration building show investigators with the Ohio Ethics Commission and Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification, or BCI, took employee personnel files, computers, cell phones and other electronics and paperwork, mostly from the Engineer’s Office building.

From Data Processing, taken were a hard drive that contains shared directories and emails of Engineer’s Office employees Gregg Alberini Sr., highway superintendent; Jack Simon, road use maintenance agreement coordinator; Donald Barzak, Smith’s former director of governmental affairs and special projects; and Smith.

Smith’s attorney, Subodh Chandra, said he had not yet reviewed the affidavit, and the ”engineer has always strived strictly to comply with both the letter and spirit of Ohio ethics law and treasurers his reputation for honesty with the public.

”We are optimistic that once the public knows all of the facts about the ethical care the engineer has exercised and the advice he has received, that both the public and the investigators will understand that there is no violation of the public trust here,” Chandra said.

The affidavit outlines other purported conflicts and potential evidence sought by the Ethics Commission in the investigation.

Other claims involve Smith hiring a business associate, Donald Barzak, as Smith’s director of governmental affairs / grants and special projects coordinator.

Smith and Barzak, identified in the document as CEO of the Barzak Agency, a full-service financial firm, own four properties together, including the building in Cortland where Barzak runs the agency.

Another claim involves Smith’s highway superintendent, Gregg Alberini Sr., hired in September 2011, who supervises his son, Gregg Alberini Jr., an employee in the highway department since 2004. The claim is that Alberini Sr. promoted his son to ”temporary foreman” and authorized a pay raise for him.

Also, there’s a claim that Smith did private work for the Trumbull County Board of Health while being in office as engineer.