October 26, 2014

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Chuck Camera to appeal decision over firing

LORAIN — Fired Lorain Streets Commissioner Charles Camera will appeal a recent Civil Service Commission decision upholding his dismissal by the city in April stemming from charges relating to his former position as head of Lorain Youth Baseball.

Camera

A notice of Camera’s intent to appeal the commission’s May 21 decision was filed Monday in Lorain County Common Pleas Court by his attorney, Wayne R. Nicol.

“We feel the city did not meet its burden (of proof), and Chuck should not have been terminated,” Nicol said.

“Basically, our argument is that this plea to a misdemeanor conviction for theft should not overshadow the 30-plus years he gave the city,” Nicol said. “Chuck worked for the city over 35 years with no problems, save one minor incident years ago. Otherwise, his personnel record is completely clean.”

The Civil Service Commission’s ruling upholding Camera’s April 10 firing was based on “a preponderance of evidence” that demonstrated Camera had taken part in “immoral conduct, dishonesty and discourteous treatment of the public” while serving as president of Lorain Youth Baseball.

Camera pleaded guilty in March to theft and records tampering and was ordered to pay $10,000 to the league after an investigation concluded more than $200,000 in bingo tickets used for fundraising by Lorain Youth Baseball were unaccounted for.

Camera admitted to the commission that bar owners and casino night dealers skimmed profits intended for the baseball group but insisted he never profited from the league.

Camera also told commission members his actions were the only way the league could build fields and pay fees for underprivileged players.

Camera, who quit the league’s presidency in 2008, was hired by the city in 1976, and had been Streets Commissioner since 1991. He earned an annual salary of $75,346.

Camera’s conviction undermined public confidence not only in him but the city, according to Mayor Chase Ritenauer.

The case dealt a real blow to the baseball league, which lost sponsors and some 400 players since Camera’s dismissal from the city, according to league officials.

Nicol said he would present in-depth reasons for appealing the commission’s decision when he submits a more detailed brief on Camera’s behalf after receiving a transcript of the commission hearing.

Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or sfogarty@chroniclet.com.