BRIDGEPORT, Ohio -- Bridgeport Village Council had to cancel its regular meeting on Tuesday, due in part to accusations of unethical and illegal actions against two members.
A Belmont County judge ruled on Monday that, in light of legal action brought against the men, Council President Dave Smith and Councilman Ben Lenz must temporarily abstain from participating in Council meetings and duties. Smith and Lenz have been accused of conflicts of interest concerning themselves and family members.
Attorney Michael Shaheen, who represents those bringing the lawsuit, says that Smith and Lenz may have violated a statute which bars council members from receiving additional benefits because of the office they hold. The lawsuit says that Smith and Lenz voted to hire themselves as paid EMT's for the village fire department. The complaint also states that Smith voted to hire his wife for a village position.
Both men were allegedly informed beforehand that their vote on the issues would constitute a conflict of interest.
Shaheen stated that some past legislation may be undone as a result of the lawsuit. Smith and Lenz may also face charges for ethics violations.