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Sheriff says he planned appeal on Chance's rank



Published: Sat, January 26, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The assistant prosecutor said he was working on getting the appeal together when the deputy resigned.

By BOB JACKSON

VINDICATOR COURTHOUSE REPORTER

YOUNGSTOWN -- Mahoning County Sheriff Randall Wellington never made good on an arbiter's ruling that former Deputy Jeff Chance should get his corporal's stripes back, said Patrick Daugherty of the Fraternal Order of Police.

Wellington said he didn't have to, and it doesn't matter now anyway.

"Chance resigned, so it's a moot point," he said.

Chance, a brother to former Sheriff Phil Chance, abruptly stepped down Jan. 15, citing "politics, prejudice and hostility" among his reasons.

He was fired by Wellington in October 1999, then rehired in June 2001 after winning an appeal of the termination. An arbiter ruled that the proper punishment should have been a 30-day suspension or a reduction in rank.

Chance was considered to have already served the suspension upon being reinstated. A month after returning to work, he was demoted from corporal to deputy. Chance appealed that action as well.

What happened: The same arbiter who overturned the termination ruled in November that Wellington should not have demoted Chance since he'd already served a suspension. Arbiter Harry Graham ordered that Chance be restored to the rank of corporal with back pay for the difference in wages, neither of which was done.

Daugherty said the sheriff simply chose to ignore the ruling, but Wellington said that's not true.

"My intention was to appeal that order," Wellington said. "I was under no obligation to promote him" until the appeal was resolved.

Assistant Prosecutor Thomas Michaels said there is a three-month window in which to file such an appeal. The window was open until Feb. 12. Michaels said he was in the process of preparing the appeal when Chance resigned.

What's in dispute: Patrick Gallagher, FOP Local 141 president, disputed Wellington's comment in a Vindicator story last week that no one talked to him about Chance's contentions of being harassed by jail administrative staff and being denied bidding privileges.

"He knew very well what was going on," Gallagher said.

Wellington said he knew about Chance's complaints and grievances that had been filed, which were denied. He was referring to the fact that Gallagher took his complaints about Chance's alleged mistreatment to the press instead of addressing him personally, he said.

bjackson@vindy.com




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