WARREN - Trumbull County Probate Judge Thomas Swift has released almost $4 million in funds that were frozen for almost four years.
Swift released funds that were given to the Trumbull Memorial Health Foundation and were frozen by the bankruptcy of Forum Health.
The money for the foundation will now be distributed by the Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley.
Julie Scarsella, director of marketing and development for the CFMV, said Swift released the money more than a week ago. The Community Foundation board is working with the board of the Trumbull Foundation to formulate a strategic plan to disburse the money to area nonprofit groups, she said
The emphasis will be to find nonprofits who help residents of Trumbull County deal with health-related issues, Scarsella said.
Details of how the community will operate are still being worked on. It should take a few months to decide how to distribute the money, Scarsella said.
In 2009, Forum Health filed for bankruptcy and the Trumbull Foundation was included in those proceedings. It took more than two years for them to be released from the bankruptcy proceedings, and they became a supporting organization with the Community Foundation in July.
Community Health Systems Inc. purchased Forum in bankruptcy in October of 2010.
David Kostolansky, chairman of the Trumbull Memorial foundation, said the funds fell under the Probate Court's jurisdiction after it was determined during Forum's bankruptcy case that they would not be used to pay off creditors.
Kostolansky said his foundation gave a presentation to Swift and the Ohio Attorney General's Office on what they wanted to do with the money, and Swift agreed to release them with support from the attorney general.
Scarsella said the foundation is happy the funds are now in a position to be used the way the people who donated them wanted, which is to help residents in Trumbull County affected by health issues.
''We are thrilled we are able to use these funds as the donors intended,'' Scarsella said.
Kostolansky echoed Scarsella's sentiments.
''When the funds can be used as the donors intended, it's a win-win,'' Kostolansky said.