Firm hired to investigate Niles misconduct allegation

Niles employee listed, bought city vehicle

NILES — The city has retained a law firm to investigate whether wrongdoing occurred when a city employee listed, bought and later sold a city vehicle.

Anthony Cicero, the city’s head mechanic, was tasked with listing the city van on an online auction site after city council passed legislation in January allowing the city to sell the van and other obsolete items. Councilman Al Cantola, D-4th Ward, questioned Cicero’s actions during an April council meeting, said the situation raises ethical concerns and he accused Cicero of making repairs to the van and delivering it to the buyer on city time.

Cicero has denied any wrongdoing, admitted to listing, buying and selling the van and said he delivered it to the buyer on his lunch break and not on city time. Law Director Terry Swauger said anyone can bid at an auction and city employees cannot be barred from bidding, yet council and others called for the matter to be investigated.

Service Director Ed Stredney said Dublin-based law firm Clemans Nelson & Associates, which Swauger said has worked with the city in the past on grievances and contract negotiations, conducted interviews with city employees.

Stredney said the city felt it was best to seek an outside firm to look into the situation rather than having the administration conduct its own investigation.

“They have no ties here so we had them conduct this internal investigation,” Stredney said.

Swauger said when the firm concludes its investigation, they will submit the findings to him and he will then present it to city council.

“City council wanted this investigated, so we had it investigated,” Swauger said.

The cost of the investigation was not immediately available and the auditor’s office said they would check to see if the city had yet been billed.