The agency could be returned to full strength in about a month.
By NORMAN LEIGH
VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU
LISBON -- An 11-year veteran of the Columbiana County Sheriff's Department has been tapped to lead the county's drug task force.
The agency's controlling board recently named Brian McLaughlin, 31, to the post.
McLaughlin said today that he applied for the director's assignment, for which he will be paid about $34,000 annually.
He is replacing Eric Boggs, who left the agency about a month ago to return to his duties with the East Liverpool Police Department.
The task force is made up of officers assigned to the organization by various law enforcement agencies in the county.
Right now, the task force is low on staff.
McLaughlin is working with just two other officers, one from Columbiana and the other from East Palestine.
But he said other member departments intend to return personnel to the agency within the next month or so, bringing it back to its full strength of more than half a dozen officers.
Some departments pulled their representatives after cash was stolen from task force headquarters several months ago. Others removed their personnel when Boggs left, McLaughlin explained.
Appointment: A Portage County assistant prosecutor was appointed in May to investigate and prosecute the theft of an undisclosed amount of cash from the drug task force's Center Township office in March. His investigation continues.
Eugene Muldowney was appointed special prosecutor because Columbiana County Prosecutor Robert Herron would have conflicts in prosecuting the case.
Herron is a witness in the crime because a suspect returned much of the stolen money to Herron several days after the cash was reported missing. Herron also is on the task force's controlling board.
McLaughlin said he doesn't mind taking over an agency that's included in a criminal investigation.
"It has always been a very good and well-run department," McLaughlin said.
"Some sloppiness has happened. We're going to correct that and move on."