Changes In Sheriff’s Office Make Way For Fired Deputy

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The reinstatement of a fired deputy at the Athens County Sheriff’s Office has led to the termination of employment for a deputy who spent just under a year with the agency.

Shannon Sheridan returned to work Monday, two years after appealing his employment’s termination by Sheriff Patrick Kelly. Unable to simply add another deputy to the ranks due to budget constraints, Interim Sheriff Rodney Smith decided to fire Sam Disaia. Disaia was hired May 7, 2013. After a public records request was filed by The Athens Messenger, Smith confirmed the change in the ranks.

“He will still be working some grants as a reserve officer and we are looking at getting him employed as a dispatcher if we can,” Smith said of Disaia.

Sheridan started on day shift patrol on Monday. He was ordered reinstated by the Ohio State Personnel Board of Review after appealing his firing in 2012 by Kelly. Kelly alleged Sheridan had sexually harassed female deputies, been insubordinate to his superiors and improperly processed evidence.

An administrative law judge said Sheridan should have been disciplined, but said that firing was not appropriate. He recommended the reinstatement with back pay. The board agreed with the reinstatement recommendation but limited the amount of back pay Sheridan would receive.

The case is still being appealed to the board, and two civil cases are currently active in Athens County Common Pleas Court. On Monday, Common Pleas Court Judge George McCarthy granted a joint motion setting dates for both the sheriff’s office and Sheridan to file briefs in the civil cases.

Disaia was one day away from completing his probationary period when his employment was terminated. He was one of three employees who were still on probation as new hires to the department. The other two were hired after Disaia.

According to the deputies’ labor contract, all casual, temporary, new hire probationary and part-time employees within the affected classification must, in that order, have their employment terminated first before consideration can be given to full-time deputies.

With the county already paying two sheriffs, the budget had to be reassessed to account for Sheridan’s back pay and reinstating him as a deputy, according to previous Messenger reporting.

County Commission President Lenny Eliason said the county told Smith they would not fund an extra position so Smith “really doesn’t have much choice” but to terminate someone’s employment.

Disaia would be “strongly” considered if a position came open again at the office, Smith said.

Requests for comment were declined by Disaia, who cited the office policy of all media requests going through the sheriff.

In other administrative changes made unrelated to the Sheridan case, Lt. Jack Taylor, formerly of the detective unit, is now supervisor of the afternoon shift. Taylor — who also vied for the interim sheriff position when Sheriff Patrick Kelly was suspended because of the court case against him — did not return requests for comment.

Lt. Jason Kline has transitioned into the administrative role he has held for about a month, Smith said.

The 30 reserve deputies commissioned to work with the sheriff’s office are still present, which will include Disaia. The office is checking the driving records and other information on all the reserves, Smith said, to update the records. The canine unit, Dolly, who was with Reserve Deputy Matt May, is not currently being used, although May is still a commissioned deputy. Smith did not give a reason for the change.