Cleveland Plain Dealer



May 7, 1999

The defense of former Summit County official William H. Hartung Jr. began yesterday afternoon with an attempt to saw off one leg of the government's bribery case against him.

During questioning from defense attorney Lawrence Whitney, Ken Holland, business manager for Laborers Union Local 894, said he never asked a local contractor to do free work on Hartung's home, which contradicted testimony given Wednesday by the contractor, Alexander R. Lockhart.

Hartung, who resigned in February 1998 as County Executive Tim Davis' top aide, is accused of accepting $17,000 worth of work from W.G. Lockhart Construction Co. on his Shalersville Township home. Hartung also is accused of taking bribes from a contractor who was providing job training and job placement to welfare recipients.

Whitney made a special point of asking Holland whether he attended a Kentucky Derby party that served as a Davis fund raiser in 1997.

Holland told the U.S. District Court jury that he was in Louisville, Ky., attending the actual Kentucky Derby that year. Lockhart, however, testified Wednesday that Holland asked him to do the favor at Davis' Kentucky Derby party in 1996, the same year most of the free work allegedly was done at Hartung's house.

Hartung's indictment alleged that Lockhart initially agreed to do the work so Hartung would agree to spend $40,000 in county money to dredge a ditch that was causing basement flooding in Franklin Township, where Lockhart was a trustee.

Summit County Councilman Michael Grimm also testified for the defense yesterday. He said the only controversy he could recall about an $800,000 contract awarded by council to Michael T. Jelepis in 1997 was a concern that welfare funds were being shifted from literacy programs to job placement.

Jelepis, 70, of Westlake, has already pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to conspiracy to bribery charges for having allegedly passed money to Hartung via Ashtabula consultant David DeLuca. DeLuca, 76, has also pleaded guilty in the case.

Both men have testified they were part of a bribery scheme in which Hartung allegedly took money to iron out problems Jelepis' companies were having with the county.

Under cross-examination by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ann C. Rowland, Grimm testified that he asked Hartung in 1997 about the rumors that Lockhart's company had done free work at his home.

"I can't remember his exact words, but I believe he said there was nothing to be concerned about," Grimm said.

Hartung also is accused of filing false tax returns for allegedly having failed to report the bribe money and the value of the free work on his home.

Emanuel Janikis, deputy director of finance for the Department of Human Services, testified that he asked Hartung in 1997 whether he had receipts for the work W.G. Lockhart Construction had done on the home.

Janikis testified that Hartung told him he did not and that he had paid with cash that his wife had inherited. Janikis prepared Hartung's income tax returns for 1996 and 1997.

Special Agent Jennifer Higgins of the Internal Revenue Service testified that $35,000 of Hartung's wife's inheritance money was used to purchase the couple's home lot in Shalersville Township. The remainder, about $15,000 was deposited in Mary Beth Hartung's savings account, Higgins testified.


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