A jury cleared the men of robbery, but they still faced internal discipline.
By PATRICIA MEADE
VINDICATOR CRIME REPORTER
YOUNGSTOWN -- The city police roster has dropped by two with the firing of Mark Rakocy and Christopher Lombard.
After an investigation by the Youngstown Police Department Internal Affairs Division, Rakocy, 34, and Lombard, 33, both patrolmen, were notified Friday in writing of their termination. The letters are signed by Chief Robert E. Bush Jr. and Mayor George M. McKelvey.
The dismissal took effect Friday.
Rakocy and Lombard had been accused of roughing up Thomas Cole of Struthers and taking $480 from him in the restroom of the Pulse bar on Market Street in March 2001.
On Jan. 29, a jury in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court acquitted both men of robbery.
Both officers were suspended without pay when indicted in April 2001. Under Ohio law, they could not carry a firearm while under indictment for a felony.
They returned to work after the acquittal.
Code of conduct
The termination follows a hearing in May, during which testimony supported Cole's allegations.
The letters advise Rakocy and Lombard their actions with Cole violated departmental rules that cover the code of conduct.
The code requires officers to exemplify high standards of integrity, trust and morality. "Officers shall conduct themselves at all times, both on and off duty, in such a manner as to reflect most favorably on the department," the termination letters say.
Rakocy and Lombard have 14 days to appeal their dismissal.
Lombard and Rakocy each had filed grievances for back pay for their suspensions, which ran from April 20, 2001, to Jan. 31. Lombard won his grievance in May; Rakocy, who had a different arbiter, lost his this month.
Rakocy's arbiter concluded that he found no evidence to suggest that the police department pursued a sham investigation of Rakocy and Lombard because of some hidden agenda. On the contrary, the arbiter said, the investigation was exhaustively pursued by the IAD.
The arbiter disagreed with the union's contention that a finding of innocent dictates a corresponding finding that Rakocy's unpaid suspension was without just cause. The arbiter denied the grievance Rakocy filed to collect back pay for his suspension.