Permission at issue in Campbell water theft case

Tanker truck at a fire hydrant in Campbell

CAMPBELL, Ohio (WYTV) — The Campbell City Law Director said there is simply no way workers with a local company had permission to open up fire hydrants and fill their tanker trucks over the weekend.

Two men from Odyssey Environmental Services were caught stealing water on Saturday from a hydrant on Wilson Avenue.

Law Director Brian Macala said the Youngstown-based company did have a contract to clean out storm sewer catch basins in Campbell last year, but the contract expired in November.

“That contract ended Nov. 30, 2013, so there is no ongoing contractual relationship with the city. The city would not be able to have a never-ending contract with any contractor, supplier, some subcontractor, anybody like that,” Macala said.

The owner of Odyssey Environmental Services, Steve Gruber, refused to go on camera Monday, but insists his company has what he calls an ongoing verbal agreement to work on storm sewer catch basins with Campbell and the job would require the city to provide water. He said the agreement was with city administrator Judie Clement, who Gruber said called him.

But Macala and Clement both dispute that claim. Macala said Gruber called Clement on Friday, requesting to potentially do some work for the city.

“There could not be a verbal work order. We don’t work in that manner. The mayor or director of administration or any department head simply cannot pick up the telephone and say ‘hey, we want you to do this job.’ We have requirements of purchase orders, of work orders, of permits and everything else,” Macala said.

Macala said although emergency repairs are often initiated over the phone, any work costing more than $1,000 has to be approved by City Council and would have a paper trail to go along with it.

He said the city still is trying to determine how much water was taken.

Leonard Villers, 58, of Austintown, and Phillip Stratus, 26,  of Niles, spent the weekend in jail, each on a $2,500 bond, pending a mandatory court appearance scheduled for 9 a.m. Tuesday in Campbell Municipal Court. Villers and Stratus are each facing charges of theft and tampering with the water system.

In addition, plice said they are contacting the Ohio EPA to look into why a truck that had been hauling waste was being used on storm sewers.

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