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LISBON Judge: Hearing for officer was unfair



Published: Tue, May 22, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Part of the issue concerned the handling of a driving while under the influence arrest.

By NORMAN LEIGH

VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU

LISBON -- A former Lisbon police officer is to be awarded back pay after a judge determined his dismissal was improper.

Judge C. Ashley Pike of Columbiana County Common Pleas Court ruled that Timothy Myers was denied his right to a full hearing regarding his March 9, 2000, dismissal.

Myers was fired over allegations that he made disparaging remarks regarding the department and that he disclosed memos to individuals outside the department. One of those memos alleges a ticket-fixing scheme.

Judge Pike determined that, during a March 27, 2000, hearing presided over by Roger Gallo, president pro-tem of village council, Gallo interrupted Myers' attorney, Lawrence Stacey II of Columbiana, in a manner that frustrated Myers' right to a full hearing.

What was said: In his ruling, Judge Pike quoted Gallo from the hearing as saying to Stacey, "We're trying to be fair and reasonable, but you're really aggravating me because this department is not on trial here. And I'm sick of hearing it."

Later in the hearing, Stacey declined to produce more evidence, calling the proceeding a joke.

Judge Pike said it appears Myers' dismissal partly "was intended as retaliation" for Myers' disclosure of the memo related to an alleged case of ticket-fixing.

The supposed ticket-fixing stems from a Jan. 24, 1999, situation in which Myers arrested Richard Washinko, of Garfield Street, Lisbon, and charged him with driving while under the influence of alcohol, Judge Pike stated.

The arrest produced a memo, its authorship unclear, to Police Chief John Higgins that stated in part that documents related to Washinko's arrest were to be withheld from the news media.

The drunken driving charge was re-directed from Southwest Area Court and referred to Lisbon mayor's court. There it was amended to reckless operation and Washinko was fined.

The judge's entry doesn't explicitly say who re-directed the citation to mayor's court.

Washinko was fined $350 for reckless operation and ordered to pay court costs of $43.

Memo to media: Myers later gave a news reporter a copy of the memo on the arrest, which was part of why Myers was fired.

Higgins, Gallo and Mayor Jeffrey Snyder were unavailable to comment.

Judge Pike determined Myers is to be awarded his back wages as a police officer, less any wages he may have earned from other employment during that period. No dollar amount was specified in the judge's ruling.

The judge declined to reinstate Myers to the police department. Judge Pike determined that acrimony exists between the village and Myers, which would undermine the force.




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