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COURT Deputy gets jail term for stealing salt bags



Published: Tue, August 2, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The sheriff fired the deputy for failing to show at a predisciplinary hearing.

AUSTINTOWN -- A Mahoning County deputy sheriff found guilty in May of stealing eight 50-pound bags of ice-melt salt received a jail sentence.

Jeffrey L. Haney II was in Mahoning County Area Court Monday afternoon. Judge Diane Vettori, who presided over Haney's 90-minute theft trial two months ago, handed down the sentence.

Haney was sentenced to 90 days in jail with 80 suspended and told to serve the remaining 10 within the next 45 days, the clerk of court's office said. He was also placed on one year's probation and fined $250.

He can purge the sentence by speaking at four area schools as approved by the probation department, the clerk's office said.

The 36-year-old deputy took sick leave in early December 2004. He then used all his sick days and went off the payroll.

Sheriff Randall A. Wellington said Monday that Haney failed to show for a predisciplinary hearing last Friday and, as a result, was terminated. The sheriff said Haney can seek arbitration of the firing.

Haney, of Youngstown, had been with the sheriff's department for about 4 1/2 years.

The sheriff said he doesn't think speaking to school kids is appropriate but noted that was the judge's decision.

Good intentions

Haney took eight 50-pound bags of ice-melt salt from the sidewalk of the Sears store on Mahoning Avenue on Nov. 25, 2004. The store was closed that day because of Thanksgiving.

Haney's actions were seen by Austintown Patrolman Joseph Wojciak, who testified at trial that he worked a private detail Thanksgiving Day at Wal-Mart, 6001 Mahoning Ave., and saw Haney load the bags into the bed of his pickup truck. Wal-Mart and Sears share a common parking lot.

Haney, who testified at trial, said he intended to have his wife pay for the rock salt the next day.

Kenneth Cardinal, an assistant county prosecutor, in questioning Haney, established that the deputy didn't leave his name on the bags of rock salt that remained on the sidewalk or tape a note to the door at Sears to let the store know he took eight bags and would pay later. The bags were valued at $85.52 with tax.

At trial, Haney said he suffered a lower back injury in June 2004. Cardinal asked if he had any problem lifting the 50-pound bags of salt from the Sears sidewalk.

Haney said the back pain comes and goes and he had no discomfort the day he lifted the bags because he picked them up at waist level.




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