December 20, 2014

Elyria
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Former county official is charged

ELYRIA — Former Lorain County Chief Deputy Recorder Phil Betleski has been charged with theft in office for allegedly taking more vacation time than he was entitled to while he worked for the county.

Betleski, 52, could receive up to five years in prison if convicted of the charge. He entered a not-guilty plea during a brief court appearance Friday.

Betleski resigned July 28, in part because of a confrontation with County Recorder Judy Nedwick over his decision to take vacation time while she was also out of the office.

A letter from Special Prosecutor Brendan Sheehan to Lorain County Prosecutor Dennis Will said that while Betleski was on vacation, one of Nedwick’s employees discovered several digital photos and home movies that were “personal in nature” on his county computer.

But Sheehan concluded that the images and videos don’t appear to have violated county computer policies.

Betleski, who also is a former Lorain city councilman, resigned after a review of his vacation time showed that he had been crediting himself with an extra week’s vacation since 2004.

Betleski left county Auditor Mark Stewart’s office in 2003 to work for Nedwick, who declined to comment Friday.

According to a review by Interim Chief Deputy Recorder Mirta Remali, Betleski racked up an extra 150 hours of vacation time to which he wasn’t entitled under county policies.

Betleski, who declined to comment Friday, has said that Nedwick told him to take extra vacation time as an enticement to take the chief deputy recorder’s job.

After he resigned, Betleski was paid $6,221 for 197 hours of unused vacation time he had on the books. He has since cut the county a check for $3,200 to cover the payment for those hours to which he allegedly wasn’t entitled.

Betleski also was paid $31,500 for 1,000 unused sick time hours he had accumulated during his tenure with the county, but Remali has said there doesn’t appear to be any problems with that payment.

Betleski, who is the brother of Lorain County Common Pleas Judge Mark Betleski and the son of former county Judge Adrian Betleski, also agreed to repay about $2,215 in unemployment benefits he received from the state.

The county had planned to fight his decision to seek those benefits, saying he wasn’t entitled to them because he resigned and — had he been fired — it would have been for good reason.

Betleski, who agreed to be charged without having his case presented to a grand jury, remains free on bond.
James Gemelas, Betleski’s attorney, said he hopes the case against his client will be resolved quickly.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.