The Ohio Ethics Commission recently reprimanded the former Trumbull County Engineer for violations related to his tenure as engineer.
David DeChristofaro, who left office nearly two years ago and is self-employed as a civil engineer, approved a settlement agreement in which he is reprimanded for being involved as county engineer with matters related to a lawsuit between the county and BECDIR, a firm owned by a business partner with whom he shares joint ventures in oil and gas wells in West Virginia.
DeChristofaro, who in addition to being an engineer has a PhD in public administration, won election to the job of county engineer in 2008. He is a lifelong resident of the county, which consists of a combination of rural and urban areas in Ohio's northeast corner.
After getting an allegation that DeChristofaro had used his position as county engineer to participate in the settlement of a lawsuit involving BECDIR Construction Co., a Berlin Center, Ohio-based general contractor owned and operated by his business partner David DiRusso.
In February, the Commission began an investigation into DeChristofaro and found that he had participated in matters directly related to the settlement of a lawsuit involving BECDIR. Through comments, discussion with other county officials and attendance at meetings and mediations, DeChristofaro participated in the lawsuit, while simultaneously being Derusso's business partner, in joint ventures in West Virginia oil and gas wells.
“I did not believe and still do not believe that I am business partners with Dave DiRusso just because we both invested in some gas well,” DeChristofaro says. “I did not plead guilty because I do not think I am his business associate.”
In July, the Commission found the facts supported a violation of Ohio Ethics Law, because DeChristofaro participated in matters related to the settlement of the lawsuit involving DiRusso. “DeChristofaro acknowledges the facts demonstrate a violation but he does not admit guilt,” the settlement agreement reads.
DeChristofaro pointed out that the lawsuit began before he took office, the mediation was handled by attorneys used by the previous engineer and the settlement with BECDIR was approved by the county commissioners.
The mitigation portion of the settlement agreement with DeChristofaro notes he has been out of office for nearly two years, he didn’t personally benefit from the BECDIR settlement, and that the lawsuit began before he took office. The former county engineer is glad to be out of the office.
“I’m not a politician. I’m back working in the private sector and enjoying it,” DeChristofaro says.
DeChristofaro's alleged ethical violations also involved compliance rules related to his term of Trumbull County Engineer. In 2011, after he had left office, he pleaded guilty to fifth degree felony theft and a misdemeanor charges involving his use of stationery and postage for mailings and holiday postcards to Democratic precinct committee members, according to a press release issued by the commission at the time.
Under his plea agreement reached in 2011, DeChristofaro also admitted using public resources to create campaign fundraising materials.