"The citizens of Trumbull County have the right to expect that county money and resources will be used for county purposes, not for campaigning or personal fundraising.''
Those words are from Paul Nick, executive director of the Ohio Ethics Commission, after guilty pleas by ex-Trumbull County Engineer David DeChristofaro to charges he illegally used the office for personal and political purposes.
DeChristofaro violated that expectation every single time he had an office employee do work on holiday cards for Democratic precinct committee members in Trumbull County; organize campaign fundraising events, like golf outings and dinners; or spend time on thank-you cards for his daughter's wedding.
It's estimated DeChristofaro had his secretary spend between 62 and 86 hours on work not related to official county business. That misuse of her time alone amounts to between $1,100 and $1,538.
In addition, it's estimated the actual printing cost of DeChristofaro's actions is close to $3,000.
For his transgressions, DeChristofaro was put on probation for two years and ordered to pay $5,000 in restitution and another $7,400 to cover the cost of the special investigation, done jointly by the ethics commission and Ohio Attorney General's Office.
Plus, if he violates any terms or conditions of his probation, an 11-month jail sentence looms.
But the most stinging punishment was resigning from the office DeChristofaro desired at least since 2004, if not most of his working life.
To condense a long chain of past events, DeChristofaro, being a good Democrat, withdrew from the race then for the sake of party unity, but announced without hesitation three years later he was seeking the office.
So the punishment fits the crime: He's out of the office, owes a significant amount of money and must walk the straight-and-narrow for the next year.
Investigators determined that although DeChristofaro's behavior broke the law, it didn't rise to the level of prohibiting him from holding public office in the future or losing his professional engineering or surveyor licences, the latter of which is still in jeopardy.
DeChristofaro agreed to self-report the conviction to the Ohio Engineers and Surveyors Board, the state's governing body for engineers and surveyors.
If the board determines DeChristofaro broke the rules of conduct, punishment ranges from a reprimand to a suspension, license revocations or fine, or any combination thereof, said John Greenhalge, the board's executive director.
DeChristofaro was able to avoid any harm to his professional credentials in the criminal case, allowing him to continue working, which his defense and prosecutors agreed was best. If he'll be so lucky again remains to be seen.