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MAHONING COUNTY Sheriff demotes major



Published: Wed, July 10, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The rank of captain means $5,510 less a year in pay than major.

By PATRICIA MEADE

VINDICATOR CRIME REPORTER

YOUNGSTOWN -- Mahoning County Sheriff Randall A. Wellington has demoted James M. Lewandowski, who once served as interim sheriff.

The special order was issued Tuesday, with no explanation.

It states: "Major James Lewandowski is hereby removed from the rank of major and in accordance with the collective bargaining agreement is returned to the rank of captain."

Lewandowski did not respond to messages left at his office, on his pager and at his home.

Lewandowski has been with the department since January 1985 and reached the rank of major under Wellington. Lewandowski had been in charge of the support services division.

His new assignment hasn't been determined. Capt. Thomas Scanlon has assumed command of support services.

Cost-cutting measure

Wellington said Lewandowski's demotion is not based on discipline, but rather should be viewed as a cost-cutting measure. He denied there was any confrontation.

The sheriff said his department has a deficit of about $1.5 million and will need to lay off employees. Lewandowski, the sheriff said, is the first in his attempts to save money.

Lewandowski's demotion to captain means a difference in pay of $5,510 annually. Majors earn $60,608 annually, while captains are paid $55,098.

If the half-percent sales tax fails in November, "We're looking into massive layoffs," Wellington said.

Unlike three years ago, the last time the sales tax failed, prisoners won't be released from the county jail, the sheriff said. The jail, he said, is free of a federal consent decree that imposed certain restrictions, such as a guard-to-inmate ratio.

Lewandowski served as interim sheriff for 43 days in the summer of 1999, after then-Sheriff Phil Chance was convicted of racketeering crimes and resigned. Chance began serving his 71-month federal prison term in January 2000.

On Chance's first day in office, Jan. 6, 1997, he fired Lewandowski, who won his job back nearly 15 months later.

meade@vindy.com




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