Officer receives 5-day suspension

By jeanne starmack


A city police detective has received five unpaid days’ suspension for improperly using his city car for a personal reason and for improper documentation of sick leave.

Detective Sgt. John Rusnak, who has been on the city police force for 15 years, received the suspension Tuesday after a meeting with city administrator Jack Dill, police union president John Gulu, an attorney from the law firm Clemans Nelson & Associates and a representative from the Fraternal Order of Police, Ohio Labor Council. The city uses Clemans Nelson for labor issues.

Gulu said earlier this week he did not wish to comment.

Mayor Bill VanSuch said he did not wish to comment, referring questions to Clemans Nelson Atty. Mike Esposito.

Esposito did not comment except to reiterate information contained in a record of discipline that Rusnak signed Tuesday.

The document says Rusnak and the union have agreed not to file an appeal of the disciplinary action.

Rusnak said Thursday that this is the first time he has gotten into trouble at his job in 15 years.

“I never had a mark on my record,” he said. “I just made a mistake. It was a one-time thing.”

Police Chief Gus Sarigianopoulos concurred that Rusnak has never faced disciplinary action before.

Rusnak said that on Jan. 2, he was feeling ill during his shift. He went home, but then came back later. He didn’t mark the time off, saying he considered himself still on duty. He said he had his radio with him and could have taken calls from home.

Rusnak drives his unmarked detective’s car home anyway, Sarigianopoulos said.

But Rusnak did not mark the time he was away from the station as sick time.

“That’s where the issue is,” Rusnak said. “Until they brought it to light this way, I didn’t see the harm in it.”

Two of the unpaid days will be in vacation, compensatory or personal time, and three days without pay will be scheduled by Sarigianopoulos.

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