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Feds examine DOH contract with Ohio firm

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Federal authorities are investigating a Division of Highways equipment division contract with an Ohio company that supplies parts for roadside mowers.

The U.S. Attorney's Office served search warrants at the DOH's equipment office at Buckhannon and at MoTrim Inc. in Cambridge, Ohio, earlier this week.

"We do know there's a federal investigation going on," said Carrie Bly, a DOH spokeswoman. "We're cooperating in any way we can."

Federal agents hauled away truckloads of documents from both locations. The investigation is expected to take several months.

MoTrim has a state contract to supply parts for Division of Highways mowers. The contract allows DOH equipment division employees to buy MoTrim parts with state purchasing cards, or "P-cards," state records show.

"All I can tell you was there was a search warrant issued for records, and no arrests were made," said Chris Zumpetta, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office Northern District in Wheeling.

Investigators and police from Ohio and West Virginia assisted with the federal warrant at MoTrim's headquarters, according to the Daily Jeffersonian newspaper in Ohio. The FBI also is taking part in the probe.

A MoTrim spokeswoman said Wednesday the company would have no comment on the federal investigation, then hung up on a reporter.

MoTrim, which was awarded the state parts contract in 2012, also distributes boom mowers.

In 2006, the state Ethics Commission and Legislative Auditor's Office investigated truck and equipment purchases at the DOH equipment division. At the time, division Director Robert Andrew called the investigation a "bunch of malarkey." The investigation's findings weren't made public.

The DOH equipment division in Buckhannon buys trucks, bulldozers, graders, excavators, lawn mowers, parts and other equipment for state highway garages throughout the state. The office has about 90 employees. 

Reach Eric Eyre at ericeyre@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4869.

 


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