Updated Wed, May 28, 2014 4:08 pm
Glouster Village Council on Tuesday confirmed the appointment of Ryan Nagucki as the acting police chief and switched the leave of indicted chief Lucas Mace to unpaid.
Mayor Miles Wolf recommended to Council that Mace be put on unpaid administrative leave "until further notice." Council voted unanimously in approval of the decision after meeting in closed session for more than an hour.
Wolf said after talking to Council and Richard Hedges, legal counsel for the village, he determined it would be better to put the chief on unpaid leave, rather than the chief remaining on paid leave or being terminated.
"The investigation is still unraveling at this point," Wolf said after the meeting.
Mace also will not receive benefits while on leave, Wolf said.
The chief was indicted Tuesday on 12 counts, including felony charges of obstructing justice, theft in office and possessing criminal tools. He was also charged with misdemeanor counts of dereliction of duty and failure to aid a law enforcement officer.
He is accused of harboring a woman who had active warrants out of Athens and Perry Counties. Athens County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn said Mace began to date the woman, and allegedly never charged or arrested her despite knowing arrest warrants were issued.
The woman led Glouster police on a chase in March and was allegedly found to be under the influence of heroin while driving a vehicle. A police report was generated, but no charges were ever filed by Mace, Blackburn said.
Council also voted, on the recommendation of Wolf, to appoint part-time officer Ryan Nagucki as the acting chief during the case. Nagucki works full time at the Southeastern Ohio Regional Jail as well, Wolf said.
"He has assured me that he can do it with his schedule," Wolf said. "He's mature, he's competent and he showed the leadership skills I didn't see in the other (candidates)."
With the changes, the police department will now have one full-time position, held by Sgt. Kevin Lemon, and two part-time officers. Nagucki will remain a part-time employee, but will take the title of acting chief.
The Athens County Sheriff's Office has already announced that it will be patrolling the area after midnight, in order to allow the police department to work during the day.
After the meeting, Mace asked Wolf for a few days to gather any police equipment he still possessed and return it to the department.
His service weapon and utility belt were surrendered during Mace's arrest on Friday, Blackburn said.
As for his part in the investigation, Wolf told reporters that he has known about the Mace allegations for three to four weeks, and started looking into it himself after receiving an anonymous tip.
"People call me all the time saying 'the police department's doing this' or 'they are doing that,' but this time when I looked into it, what I found out ... blew my mind," Wolf said.
Wolf confirmed that he was questioned during grand jury deliberations on Tuesday.
The woman surrendered to investigators on Friday, the same night that Mace was arrested. She was arraigned on Tuesday on a possession of heroine charge and released on her own recognizance. The woman told investigators she could not remember facts about the night of the crash.
"That's how high she was," Blackburn said in a press conference Tuesday.
While awaiting her court appearance, the woman declined interviews with media.
Calls to the Glouster Police Department for Nagucki were unreturned as of Wednesday morning. Hedges, who is serving as village attorney because Robert Toy recused himself due to a conflict of interests, also did not return requests for comment as of Wednesday morning.