By BOB JACKSON
VINDICATOR COURTHOUSE REPORTER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Jeff Chance has walked away from the job he fought in court to get.
Chance unexpectedly resigned Tuesday afternoon as a deputy with the Mahoning County Sheriff's Department, said Sheriff Randall Wellington.
"It was a complete surprise," Wellington said. "I was as surprised by it as anyone here."
The resignation was effective immediately. Chance, of Canfield, could not be reached to comment.
Turned it in: Wellington said Chance walked into his office around 1:15 p.m. Tuesday and handed him a typewritten letter of resignation, which the sheriff read and accepted, and Chance left the jail.
Wellington said he is not aware of any incidents that might have triggered Chance's action.
"He wasn't pleased with my administration. That pretty much sums it up," Wellington said. "He just couldn't work for me anymore."
Chance is a brother to Wellington's predecessor, former sheriff Phil Chance, who is serving a federal prison sentence for racketeering.
Jeff Chance was fired by Wellington in October 1999 after pleading guilty to two misdemeanor counts of falsification, amended from obstruction of justice. The charges were related to misrepresentation of drug cases in Youngstown Municipal Court.
Chance appealed the termination, and in May 2000 an arbiter said the proper punishment should have been a 30-day suspension and possible reduction in rank.
Judge Maureen A. Cronin of common pleas court upheld the arbiter's ruling in June 2001, including an order that any mention of dishonesty be removed from Chance's personnel file.
Hired back: Chance was hired back in June 2001 at his former rank of corporal and was demoted to deputy in July. He was assigned to work in the county jail.
When Wellington announced the demotion, he said it would have set a bad example to have Chance in charge of new deputies, all of whom have passed a test that qualifies them as trustworthy.
Last month, Chance and Dennis Bruner of Boardman, another deputy who was fired by Wellington then ordered to be rehired, filed a federal lawsuit against the sheriff's department, Wellington and Major Michael Budd.
Each is asking for at least $75,000 in compensatory damages and unspecified punitive damages, saying they were defamed and their civil rights were violated.
The suit is still pending.