Mistakes result in discipline
The suspensions take effect Sunday.
By PATRICIA MEADE
VINDICATOR CRIME REPORTER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Four heads rolled at the Mahoning County Sheriff's Department in response to the improper release of two jail inmates in July.
Sheriff Randall A. Wellington took action Thursday against:
ULewis Bonace -- demoted from sergeant to deputy and suspended for 30 days. He has been with the department since February 1985.
UMichael Yurco -- demoted from sergeant to deputy and suspended for 30 days. He has been with the department since April 1989.
UDeputy Karen Kollar -- suspended for 30 days. She was hired in January 1987.
UDeputy John R. Stamp -- suspended for 30 days. He was hired in September 2001.
The suspensions begin Sunday and end Oct. 7. Health-care benefits are not affected.
Bonace and Yurco's annual pay drops to $37,632 from $45,534.
"It was sheer negligence -- and more so on the part of the supervisors," Wellington said of the rules violations. "There were checks they could have made to prevent what happened and they didn't do it."
Wellington, with the cooperation of the union, has created a new release unit. One deputy on each shift is exclusively responsible for release of inmates.
"They're all very conscious of their duties and the proper routine," the sheriff said.
Under the old system, deputies were able to bid -- daily -- on jobs based on their seniority. That meant that those doing prisoner releases changed frequently.
"They could be there one day and not the next and not work there again for 30 days," Wellington said. "There was just no continuity."
Bonace and Kollar were on duty July 12 and responsible for the improper release of inmate Jose Rivera, 23, of Grandview Avenue. Rivera, whose bond is $500,000 cash or surety on a charge of complicity to aggravated murder, was taken back into custody that same day.
The mix-up happened when an order was sent to the jail to release a woman who was being held as a material witness in Rivera's case. Instead of releasing the woman, the jail released Rivera on a $10,000 signature bond.
The paperwork had Rivera's name at the top because it's his case. The woman's name was written next to it.
When the paperwork got to the jail from Mahoning County Common Pleas Court, the deputies saw Rivera's name at the top and figured he was supposed to be released, Wellington said. The deputies assumed the second name on the paperwork was Rivera's alias, the sheriff said.
The woman was not released until after Rivera was returned to the jail.
What's behind charge
Rivera's complicity charge relates to the Jan. 12 death of Angela M. Loibl, 24, of Austintown. She was shot in the face in a kitchen at a Steel Street bar. Rivera's case is assigned to Judge James C. Evans, who was outraged over the release.
Judge Evans wrote to the sheriff's department in July, asking to be notified of the results of the investigation into Rivera's release.
"It is imperative that any future incident of mistaken release be prevented," the judge wrote.
Yurco and Stamp were on duty July 30 and responsible for the improper release of Vincent Ciccone, 38, of Struthers.
Ciccone was taken back into custody two days later when spotted at the Fifth Street Plaza near his home.
Ciccone had been in the jail since June 21, serving a sentence for driving under suspension in Struthers, the sheriff said.
Although that sentence had been served by July 29, Ciccone was supposed to remain in jail because of old cases pending in Youngstown Municipal Court, the sheriff said.
Ciccone's cases from 1998 include aggravated menacing, driving under suspension, improper confinement of a dog, speed and drug abuse, the sheriff said.
Ciccone, the sheriff said, failed to appear in court when ordered to on the old cases.