December 19, 2014

Elyria
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Worker investigated for allegedly taking scaffolding

ELYRIA — For the second time this year, a Lorain County maintenance worker is under investigation for allegedly taking county property without permission.

A letter informing Richard Reiman of a disciplinary hearing, which took place last week, stated that he was accused of leaving work without permission June 20 after removing scaffolding. He also is accused of improperly using a county truck to move the scaffolding and dishonesty.

County Administrator Jim Cordes said the investigation showed that Reiman took the scaffolding from the Lorain County Justice Center on June 20. He returned it to the county’s carpentry shop June 26 after his supervisor began asking where it was.

In an unrelated incident, maintenance worker Joe Renaldo resigned last month after falling under scrutiny for allegedly stealing scrap metal from county buildings and selling it to local scrap yards. Although Renaldo resigned before a disciplinary hearing, he remains under criminal investigation.

Cordes said he doesn’t believe Reiman’s case will turn into a criminal probe because the scaffolding was returned. He said the commissioners won’t make a decision on what, if any, punishment Reiman will receive until the hearing officers completes a report on his findings.

County sheriff’s Capt. Jim Drozdowski wrote in a statement that Reiman and other county workers didn’t acknowledge knowing where the scaffolding was during a June 26 meeting he and county Facilities Director Karen Davis held to discuss the missing scaffolding and a leaf blower that also couldn’t be accounted for.

During that same meeting, Drozdowski wrote, no one admitted to knowing who had put nails up against the tires of Renaldo’s truck.

In his own written statement, Reiman wrote that he had taken the scaffolding to the county Records Center to use to check on a leak and returned it after the meeting.

According to the documents provided by the county, Reiman closed out the work order for the leak on June 19, a day before surveillance video shows him loading the scaffolding onto a truck at the Justice Center. Another county worker wrote in a statement that Reiman had asked him to help load the scaffolding.

Reiman did not respond to a request for comment made through the union, but United Steelworkers Local 8845 President Don Kovacs said he is aware of the general nature of the allegations against his co-worker.

He said he doesn’t have firsthand knowledge of the situation and is awaiting the same report as the commissioners.

“We’re going to represent him and try to get the best possible outcome,” Kovacs said.

This isn’t the first time Reiman has faced possible discipline during his tenure with the county.

He was suspended for 30 days in 2008 for hanging a noose in the Maintenance Department, where it was seen by a black co-worker, who took offense. Reiman later said he made a mistake.

Reiman was placed on paid leave in 2009 for allegedly threatening to shoot the commissioners, although he was allowed to return to work after Commissioner Ted Kalo and then-Commissioner Betty Blair concluded it was Reiman’s word against that of another county worker.

Reiman was reprimanded last year for bringing a gun to work and leaving it in his personal vehicle. The gun was later stolen from Reiman’s truck.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com. Follow him on Twitter @BradDickenCT.