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HUBBARD Mayor won't take action



Published: Sun, January 6, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



After the department head was taken home by police, he went back to his car and drove off.

By TIM YOVICH

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

HUBBARD -- Mayor George Praznik won't discipline two city department heads -- one who had a drunken-driving charge dismissed and the other who reportedly got abusive with police officers when he was called for help.

The mayor said he didn't take any action against John J. Slick, lighting superintendent, because the DUI charge against him was dismissed, and he decided not to take action against Jerry Campana, the street superintendent, because police didn't charge him.

What occurred Sept. 8 is contained in a report filed by Patrol Officer David Oaks:

Police received a telephone tip from a woman shortly before 6:45 p.m. that a man was stumbling toward a store in McConnell Plaza as if there was "something was wrong with him."

When Oaks and Patrol Officer Christopher Moffitt responded, they saw Slick staggering out of a store.

Oaks reported that Slick had a strong odor of alcohol, slurred speech and difficulty making decisions.

After determining that Slick was too drunk to drive, the officers put Slick's groceries in his car and Moffitt drove him home.

Driving again: Less than an hour later, Oaks reported spotting Slick driving his car out of the plaza parking lot and stopped him in front of Reed Middle School on West Liberty Street.

He nearly stumbled from the grass strip along the sidewalk into traffic, the report said.

Oaks said in his report that when he went back to his cruiser to radio in that he made the traffic stop Slick drove away.

Oaks caught up with Slick, who told him he was going home. When the officer told Slick he was drunk, Slick responded, "I'm not going to deny that," the report says.

After failing a field sobriety test, Slick was taken to the police station, where he refused to take a blood-alcohol test, according to the report.

Slick then called Campana for a ride. Campana arrived and shouted at police about giving Slick a break. Campana was described in the reports as being "abusive and hostile."

According to a police report, Campana told police "that there had to be some courtesy here" for Slick.

"You're going to be hearing about this," Campana reportedly said.

After leaving the station, Campana called back to get the telephone number of Robert Paterniti, city safety director.

Paterniti recalled Campana's telephoning him, asking if he could help Slick. Paterniti said there was nothing he could do.

Paterniti said he was embarrassed. "You try to help a guy and get yelled at," he said of the police officers. "We did our job."

Police Chief Raymond Moffitt, Christopher Moffitt's father, declined to comment.

Charge dismissed: The drunken-driving charge against Slick was dismissed Oct. 17 in Girard Municipal Court by Judge Michael Bernard.

Praznik said he referred the case from his mayor's court to the Girard court to avoid any conflict of interest.

The case dismissal was based on a motion to suppress evidence filed by Slick's defense attorney, Jeffrey Adler, who contended police had no probable cause to stop Slick as he drove away from the plaza.

Adler argued in his motion that police didn't give Slick a sobriety test before he was taken home and he wasn't impaired while driving later because he didn't commit any traffic violations.

Adler also contended that Slick was not read his rights.

Judge Bernard dismissed the case based on the recommendation of Atty. Robert Johnson, the Girard city prosecutor.

Different view: Paternini countered that he thinks there was probable cause to stop Slick. He had been drinking and that's why police took him home in the first place, he said.

"These cases are determined on their own merit. I was convinced I was doing the right thing," the judge said about the dismissal.

"This had nothing to do with the city," Slick said, noting he was on his own time. "We all make mistakes."

Campana didn't return calls to the street department.

The mayor said that if Slick had been found guilty, the question of discipline "would have been a different situation."

As for Campana, the mayor said, "If police thought he was out of line, they could have pressed charges."

The mayor said he never read the police report about the actions of his department heads because the case was transferred to Girard.

yovich@vindy.com




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