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More Ohio Jail Construction Corruption

In the April '97 issue of PLN we reported "Ohio Jail Construction Corruption?" about questionable contract provisions and cost overruns by a construction firm owned by Ohio governor George Voinovich's brother. That article was about the firm's $9 million renovation of the Franklin county jail.

The construction company, the V Group, owned by Paul Voinovich, terminated another jail construction contract in July with Jefferson county, amid charges of breach of contract and counter charges of corruption and cost overruns.

Jefferson county elections board member Vincent Zumpano was convicted of attempted bribery. Zumpano pleaded guilty to trying to bribe a county commissioner in 1993 to obtain the jail construction contract for the V Group. Paul Voinovich was not charged and has denied soliciting a bribe or asking Zumpano to solicit one for him .

Jefferson county began withholding monthly payments to the V Group of more than $27,000 in August, 1996, charging that the V Group was slow to respond to construction problems and has contributed to a $6 million cost overrun on the originally-bid $16 million 140-bed jail project. [Editor's Note: $22 million for a 140-bed facility is $157,143 per bed space -- about three times the national average for jail construction costs].

V Group company spokesperson Tom Andrejewski said that the company terminated its contract with Jefferson county because "there have been numerous breaches of contract, including their failure to pay."

Lower courts have ordered the county to pay, but Jefferson county has appealed to the Ohio supreme court. County officials charge that the V Group, which collects about 7 percent of the total project cost -- overruns included -- has failed to prevent cost overruns because the company benefits from the higher costs.

Associated Press

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