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Published: Tuesday, 2/10/2004

Donation to political fund wasn't public cash

The money used by the Rossford police chief to make a political contribution to Mayor Bill Verbosky last year was not public money, according to the city's law director.

Keith Wilkowski told city council last night that his research shows the account was funded by contributions from a local fraternal organization, the Rossford Eagles, and did not include city funds.

Mr. Wilkowski also said that Mr. Verbosky acted properly in accepting and then returning the $100 check to his campaign last fall. There is no evidence showing city funds were ever used to support the Rossford Police Emergency Fund, Mr. Wilkowski said.

Former mayor Louie Bauer, who has requested the records from the account, said he believes public funds were co-mingled with private funds from the account.

Mr. Wilkowski said the account was established in the mid-1970s and carried the city's federal tax identification number. He said the Rossford Eagles contributed most of the money and that it was used for various police projects, equipment purchases, retirement parties, and funeral expenses.

He said the city's police chiefs controlled the account, and the fund was never a part of the city finances or part of the budget.

At last night's meeting, Mr. Verbosky said that it was in “poor judgment” for him to have accepted the money and for Chief Dennis Foy to offer it for his campaign.

“Mr. Verbosky asked expressly if these were public funds and [Chief Foy] said no,” Mr. Wilkowski said. After questions were raised and the answer was not so clear, he returned the funds, he said.

Chief Foy could not be reached last night for comment.

Mr. Verbosky said the account has been closed and its funds frozen. He said the police department will start another fund, the Rossford Benevolent Command Foundation. He said that fund will no longer carry the city's federal tax ID number.

Councilman James Richards said, though, he'd like to know whether money from the fund is being used for projects connected with the city.

In other action, council heard the second reading of a development agreement between Miller-Rossford Properties Limited, Meijer Stores Limited, and the city.

Mr. Wilkowski said he is collecting information for council members on a tax agreement for the project under construction in the Crossroads of America site on U.S. 20. He said he should have that information for review by council's next meeting.



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