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GIRARD Clerk of courts resigns; lips are sealed as to why



Published: Tue, February 19, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Girard's clerk of courts was being paid $46,000 a year.

By TIM YOVICH

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

GIRARD -- Municipal Judge Michael A. Bernard says his clerk of courts, Mary Jo Orr, has resigned -- but neither he nor Orr wants to talk about it.

Judge Bernard signed a journal entry Friday accepting the resignation, effective at the close of business that day.

The entry notes that Orr, who was being paid about $46,000 annually, tendered her resignation Feb. 8.

By contrast, Mayor James J. Melfi is paid $40,132 a year.

"I really don't want to discuss personnel matters," the judge said when asked why his clerk decided to leave.

Orr would only say she would not comment until after she retains a lawyer.

The city pays 60 percent of Orr's salary, and the county pays the rest.

She has earned $22,318 in severance pay in unused sick leave, personal days and vacation time, the judge's entry says.

Won't fill position: Judge Bernard said he will not fill the position for about a year.

"I'm going to run a little short-staffed," he said, adding he wants to stay within his budget and save the city money.

The city has been under a state-imposed fiscal emergency since Aug. 8 because of debt and its inability to pay its loans.

A recently completed performance audit by the state auditor's office recommended the court reduce its 16-member staff by the equivalent of 41/2 employees.

Orr, who was a deputy clerk, replaced clerk Renee Szabados-Bornemiss, who was fired Aug. 31, 1998, by Judge Bernard for insubordination and neglect of duty.

Irregularities: Orr found irregularities while she was organizing the clerk's office in preparation for her new duties.

On May 10, 1999, Szabados-Bornemiss was sentenced in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court to 30 days in jail and ordered to pay back $24,147 she stole from the court.

She pleaded guilty to felony theft, was sentenced to three years' probation and ordered to get counseling and perform 100 hours of community service.

yovich@vindy.com




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