MAHONING COUNTY Two deputy sheriffs face job suspensions for unrelated violations
A deputy who taunted an inmate received a one-day suspension.
By PATRICIA MEADE
VINDICATOR CRIME REPORTER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Deputy Sheriff Fred L. DeLuca has received a 30-day suspension for failing to stop a pair of pruning shears from entering Mahoning County Common Pleas Court in a man's gym bag.
The suspension begins Sunday. Until the suspension expires Oct. 7, DeLuca, 28, of Boardman, will be without his commission as a deputy but not without health-care benefits.
Deputy Johnny Naples, meanwhile, has received a one-day suspension for making a purse out of paper, taunting an inmate with it then falsifying a report of the event, Maj. Michael Budd said.
DeLuca was at the courthouse July 2 when Kenneth W. Kimbrough, 55, of Firnley Avenue passed through the metal detector and placed his gym bag on the conveyor belt to be X-rayed. Kimbrough, accompanied by two children, then entered the courthouse, Budd said.
Later that day in the courthouse, Kimbrough wandered into domestic relations court during a hearing then walked to the marriage license area, Budd said. Kimbrough, who became loud and disruptive, was confronted by Deputy Carolyn Arnold, who found the shears by patting down the gym bag, the major said.
Kimbrough was charged with criminal trespass, disorderly conduct and illegal conveyance of a weapon into a courthouse, Budd said. In June, Kimbrough was arrested outside the courthouse after being told by deputies to stop harassing the public and to leave.
When ordered by a supervisor to file a report of what happened with the pruning shears, DeLuca said the X-ray revealed what he thought was a pair of bush trimmers but his search of the bag turned up nothing.
In a letter to the Mahoning County Sheriff's Department dated July 23, Judge James C. Evans asked for "appropriate corrective action." He said "concern has been expressed of the potential breakdown in security."
Judge Evans, the court's administrative judge, sent copies of the letter to his seven colleagues.
A hearing officer concluded that DeLuca's actions were a violation of departmental rules. Sheriff Randall A. Wellington then issued a 30-day suspension, citing DeLuca for, among other things, failing to protect life and property, preserve the peace, prevent crime, and detect and arrest violators of the law.
DeLuca's lawyer, Lou A. D'Apolito, filed a notice of appeal in common pleas court this week and a motion for a temporary restraining order.
The sheriff's department failed to provide DeLuca with a policy concerning what is and what is not permitted in the courthouse, only guidance that no deadly weapons or dangerous ordnances are permitted, his lawyer said in the motion.
D'Apolito said pruning shears do not meet any of the criteria for prohibited items -- explosive devices, dangerous ordnances, knives and scissors with blades exceeding 3 inches, straight razors, firearms and any instrument that may be used as a weapon. The shears did not exceed 3 inches, he said.
If DeLuca is suspended now without pay before his appeal is heard, he will suffer irreparable harm, D'Apolito said in court papers. The lawyer pointed out that DeLuca and his wife are expecting their first child during the suspension period.
In the Naples case, the inmate, Michael Hogan, is accused of running his car over John K. Ruble Sr., 71, of Struthers, who died from his injuries May 31 in Boardman. Ruble, police said, was trying to stop Hogan from stealing his wife's purse.
Hogan says he was several blocks away sleeping at his mother's house on Forestridge Drive when Ruble was run over and killed.
Naples said in a report that while escorting Hogan back to his cell after court Aug. 14, the inmate used abusive language and threatened to attack. Naples also wrote that a paper lunch bag was knocked out of his hands by Hogan, who used vulgar language about Naples' mother.
In a subsequent report, after an internal investigation, Naples acknowledged that he made a purse out of two pieces of paper and staples and asked Hogan if he wanted to take it up to his cell.
Rather than proceeding with the disciplinary process, Naples sent a letter to Wellington. Naples admitted his "adverse behavior," agreed to accept the one-day suspension and not file a grievance through the union.