Saturday, June 10, 2000

Ex-official pleads guilty

Case involves working as consultant to suppliers

The Associated Press

        WARREN, Ohio — The former director of a sanitary district that provides water to 300,000 people in northeast Ohio pleaded guilty to corruption charges on Friday.

        Edward Flask pleaded guilty in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court to felony charges of having an unlawful interest in a public contract.

        He also admitted to soliciting or receiving improper compensation and to having a conflict of interest, both misdemeanors.

        The felony charges — the most serious facing Mr. Flask — carry a maximum penalty of 18 months in prison and a $2,500 fine. Mr. Flask could be ordered to pay restitution and is prohibited from holding public office for seven years.

        Mr. Flask admitted that while he was director of the Mahoning Valley Sanitary District he authorized a series of purchases from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Ohio and the Ohio Edison Co.

        But while dealing with those companies in his public position he also was being paid as a consultant by them.

        Mr. Flask said he received $1.7 million from Blue Cross from 1993-97 and $270,000 from Ohio Edison from 1991-97.

        He also admitted to accepting thousands of dollars in compensation from other contractors doing business with the MVSD.

        Mr. Flask was director of the sanitary district from 1986 to 1997.

        The MVSD has been under suspicion for years. In a 1997 audit, state Auditor Jim Petro found the agency misspent nearly $2.7 million in public money.

        No sentencing date was set for Mr. Flask, who pleaded before visiting Judge Richard Markus.


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