Niles city worker pleads not guilty in gas theft

NILES –The administration has not yet decided whether a city meter reader who pleaded not guilty to a charge of petty theft should keep his job.

Matt Marrara, 53, was placed on indefinite leave without pay, Mayor Tom Scarnecchia said. The administration has until the first week of March to decide how or whether he should be formally disciplined.

Matt Marrara is accused of letting his brother, Mike Marrara — who was convicted in 2015 of stealing nearly $100,000 from Mount Carmel Church — use about $20 of his city gas allowance, according to police. Mike Marrara, 60, pleaded not guilty to a charge of receiving stolen property, and both are scheduled to appear April 7 for a pretrial hearing.

The men entered their pleas in writing.

City employees who have a gasoline allowance each have a fob connected to their name that activates the pump and allows only as much gas per week as the system has designated.

A camera stationed at the pump has been out of service for about a year with wiring issues, Scarnecchia said.

The administration started taking steps to get the camera operational since the discovery of the theft.

Police Chief Jay Holland said the department would like upgraded monitoring for that area, with a system that can zoom in and change direction.

Because the city pays about $1.73 a gallon for gas, and the men are accused of taking 12 gallons during two incidents, the cost to the city was about $20, Holland said.

The gas theft is alleged to have happened twice — once Jan. 20 and again Jan. 31, according to Niles police.

Niles police reports state an officer at the department, which is adjacent to the city pump, noticed a former city employee’s van at the fueling station Jan. 31 and a city employee authorizing the transaction.

Neither Matt Marrara nor Michael Marrara could be reached for comment. Phone numbers for the men are disconnected.

Matt Marrara has been working for the city since 2005 and is paid $17.49 an hour.

Mike Marrara was fired from the city maintenance department in 2015 after pleading guilty to theft charges in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court. He was sentenced to a year behind bars.

In court

Matt and Mike Marrara, charged with petty theft and receiving stolen property in connection to the theft of city gas, are next scheduled to appear April 7 in Niles Municipal Court for a pretrial hearing.