August 1, 2014

Elyria
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Fired Lorain inspector reinstated to former job

LORAIN — David Velez has been reinstated to his job with the Lorain Building Department, a position he lost after being found guilty of lying to police.

Velez

Velez had filed a grievance with the city challenging his termination, but United Steel Workers Local 6621 and the city reached a deal last month that allowed him to return to work with 24 weeks of back pay for the time he was off. His punishment was converted to a 10-day suspension, according to a letter sent to Velez by Lorain Safety Service Director Robert Fowler.

“It’s a just result,” Brent English, Velez’s attorney, said.

Velez continues to challenge his conviction of the falsification charge in the 9th District Court of Appeals. He was acquitted of additional charges or bribery and soliciting or receiving improper compensation by Lorain County Common Pleas Judge James Burge during a bench trial last year.

Those allegations centered on work he did at a rental property owned by David Fetter, who said during the trial that while Velez and another city worker were inspecting the house in January 2007, Velez told him that there wasn’t proper heating in a bedroom.

Velez then told him that if he wanted to pass the inspection, he could install baseboard heating, Fetter testified.

Fetter went to city officials after Velez failed the plumbing in the house because of a leaking hot water tank in the property in 2009, something he viewed as an attempt to shake him down again.

English attacked Fetter’s testimony during the trial, pointing out inconsistencies in his story and also produced witnesses who challenged Fetter’s timeline.

But Burge concluded there wasn’t enough evidence to convict him of the most serious charges, he did find there was enough evidence to show that Velez lied to police when he was questioned about whether he created an invoice for work he did on Fetter’s property.

English said Velez returned to work earlier this month.

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