ELYRIA — The trial of a Lorain city electrician accused of forcing a landlord to pay him to make repairs in order to pass an inspection got under way Monday.
David Velez, 56, is charged with bribery, falsification and receiving improper compensation for the January 2007 inspection and subsequent repairs he allegedly made on the rental property owned by David Fetter, who leveled the allegations against Velez in 2009.
Fetter testified that Velez told him the property couldn’t pass inspection because there wasn’t proper heating in one of the bedrooms. Velez then allegedly offered to install baseboard heating for Fetter.
“He said, ‘If you want to pass the inspection, I can do the work,’ ” Fetter told Lorain County Common Pleas Judge James Burge, who is hearing the case instead of a jury.
Velez’s lawyer, Brent English, however, hammered away at Fetter’s testimony — pointing out inconsistencies between what he said Monday and what he told Lorain police Lt. Mark Carpentiere and a private investigator working for English.
English said Fetter told Carpentiere that Velez said, “I can help you out with that.”
English also challenged Fetter’s account of how Velez would have gained access to the rental property. Fetter had told the private investigator that he met Velez at the house, while he testified that Velez used a lockbox to get the key.
Fetter said he was simply telling the private investigator, Randall Buckosh, what he wanted to hear because he didn’t trust him and wanted to get him out of his house. The entire conversation between Buckosh and Fetter, which lasted for one hour and nine minutes, according to English, was recorded and the two men discussed the case and their private lives.
English also denied that Velez installed the baseboard heating at the rental property.
“Who did this work? You know it wasn’t Mr. Velez. Who did it?” English asked Velez at one point during his daylong testimony.
Fetter testified he wasn’t there when the work was done, but he paid $220 to Velez for the job.
Fetter went to Lorain city officials to complain about Velez in the fall of 2009 after Velez returned for another inspection and failed the residence because of a leaking hot water heater.
Since the allegations were made against him, Velez hasn’t been allowed to perform inspections for the city but continues to work for the city.
Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or firstname.lastname@example.org.