Top election board officials kept cell phones going

CLEVELAND (AP) - Two top election board officials who routinely made personal calls on board-issued cell phones said they had reimbursed the expense but the board records have disappeared, a newspaper reported.
From August 2000 through December 2001, then-board executive director Thomas Jelepis and his top aide, Lynnie Powell, rang up a total of $12,000 in cell phone charges. At that point the board took the phones away.
The calls, including personal calls, cost Cuyahoga County 21 cents a minute during peak hours and 11 cents a minute at night and weekends, The Plain Dealer reported Tuesday.
Powell said she paid for all personal calls and provided the newspaper with reimbursement receipts totaling about $250. She said the board had no policy requiring reimbursement, but she made payments anyway.
Her biggest one-month bill, in May 2001, was $1,190. Jelepis' largest bill was $488 in August 2001.
Jelepis wrote the board a $100 check for personal calls in March 2001 and promised a $30 check on the first day of each month, according to a memo he wrote that included a copy of his check.
"The vast majority of calls are business related; however, many are personal in nature if you include conversations with my wife and children," he wrote.
Jelepis said he had made regular payments for his personal calls but was unable to find the canceled checks.
Board records about reimbursements by Jelepis and Powell have disappeared, the paper said.
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)