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Ohio lobbyist sentenced;
Michael Fabiano receives probation for role in kickback investigation

        

January 28, 2000
Akron Beacon Journal

by Margaret Newkirk

A key figure in an ongoing federal investigation of alleged kickbacks, environmental officials and Paul Voinovich's V Group was given two years' probation yesterday in Cincinnati.

Michael Anthony Fabiano also will pay a $500 fine and a $50 special assessment, and will have to file corrected tax returns for the years in which he declared bribe money as deductible business expenses.

Fabiano is a Columbus lobbyist.

Prosecutors recommended the light sentence because Fabiano cooperated early and often in the federal grand jury investigation.

According to plea agreements filed in the case, Fabiano paid two inspectors with an EPA-funded air monitoring agency in eastern Ohio for their help in getting ``more favorable air regulation'' from the Ohio EPA and the North Ohio Valley Air Authority, or NOVAA.

Fabiano paid former NOVAA director Pasquale ``Patsy'' DeLuca and former NOVAA air inspector Vincent Zumpano $12,000 in 1994 and early 1995, by funneling money to DeLuca's son as ``consulting fees.''

At the time, Fabiano had only one major client. Beginning in early 1994, Fabiano began receiving $28,000 in lobbying fees and expenses from the Waste Technologies Industries hazardous waste incinerator in East Liverpool.

NOVAA was the state EPA's monitoring and enforcement arm in the area.

Around the same time he began getting his fees from WTI, Fabiano began paying $6,000 per month to the V Group.

Fabiano also participated in a series of meetings between the NOVAA inspectors, WTI and the V Group that year.

WTI has said it paid Fabiano to ease strained relations between their company and NOVAA, not to get favorable treatment from the state through the former governor's brother.

Frank Fela, a former V Group vice president who participated in the meetings, has said that they concerned private business dealings, but would not elaborate.

In depositions taken in an unrelated case, Zumpano said both Fela and V Group President Paul Voinovich pressured him and DeLuca to go easy on WTI.

Zumpano and DeLuca are awaiting sentencing on bribery charges related to another environmental kickback scheme.

The two men received $169,750 from Steubenville landfill owner Robert Steven Vukelic -- again through DeLuca's son -- in exchange for their help in getting Vukelic a state landfill permit.

Half of the money went to pay a consultant. Although not named in the plea agreements, sources and documents indicate that the consultant was another former V Group vice president, Clark Miller.

In his deposition, Zumpano also identified Miller.

He said that Voinovich and Miller received the Vukelic money paid to DeLuca's son. The two men frequently would call and complain if their money was late, Zumpano said.