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Law judge advises dismissing case



Published: Sat, September 29, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



No one at the sheriff's department knew what the duties of special operations director were.

By PATRICIA MEADE

VINDICATOR CRIME REPORTER

YOUNGSTOWN -- A former member of now-imprisoned Mahoning County Sheriff Phil Chance's inner circle has struck out in an attempt to prove the special job he held was really classified as deputy sheriff.

Bubon has been gone from the sheriff's department since August 1999, when the job he held was abolished.

He appealed the action.

An administrative law judge for the Ohio State Personnel Board of Review in Columbus concluded this week that Nicholas E. Bubon III of Austintown held an unclassified position.

The law judge, Marcie M. Scholl, has recommended that the case be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction because the board has no control over unclassified employees. Bubon can object to the law judge's report and recommendation.

His lawyer, Mark S. Colucci, could not be reached.

The day Chance took office in January 1997, he hired Bubon, who then obtained peace officer training paid for by the sheriff's department.

Bubon held the position of officer in charge until March 28, 1999, when Chance abolished that title and gave Bubon a pay raise that same day and the title special operations director.

Bubon was paid $41,025 annually, which was more than a sergeant was paid. The SOD position was never posted nor was there a test for it.

Position abolished: Maj. James M. Lewandowski abolished the SOD position Aug. 27, 1999, when he served as interim sheriff. By then Chance had been sentenced to 71 months in prison, convicted of racketeering crimes.

In her findings of fact, the law judge determined that Bubon did not do any of the duties listed on his job description, did not have a direct supervisor, drove an unmarked county car and was not included in the bargaining unit.

Bubon testified at a hearing in Columbus that he wasn't aware of the duties listed for his job description and referred to the job title as "bogus."

Listed some tasks: He listed some menial tasks he did, saying that he had no experience as a deputy and was basically in training. He considered himself a regular deputy who answered to others.

The law judge, meanwhile, also concluded, based on testimony, that Bubon and Chance were good friends -- Bubon drove Chance to Cleveland for his trial, for example.

Testimony also showed that no other employee of the sheriff's department knew exactly what Bubon's duties were.

Testimony showed that Bubon would show up for a meeting each morning with Chance and then, typically, would not be seen again for the remainder of the day by sheriff's department employees. His office door was often locked, the law judge noted in her report.

meade@vindy.com




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