Saturday, August 29, 2015

UPDATED 09/04/2015: Two years out and once-defrocked Wildlife Division officer back with agency

After avoiding felony charges in exchange for pleading “no contest” to two misdemeanor charges nearly three years ago, former Ohio Division of Wildlife official David A. Warner has regained employment with the agency.


Warner’s first day back with the Wildlife Division was August 10. He assumed the same position he held at the time of his 2012 dismissal: field supervisor.


In a legally binding five-page agreement between Warner and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the former will receive $66,000 in back pay.


Also agreed to is a $27,000 payment by the Natural Resources Department for employer contribution to Warner’s retirement package along with being credited with lost seniority.


Coupled with that payment and credit comes a pledge by the Natural Resources Department to “...take the reasonable legal steps for Warner to receive credit with the Public Employees Retirement System…”


The document says as well that Warner is to be given a 60-working day suspension, though this action was deemed retroactively served from September 21, 2012 to December 17, 2012.


In exchange for his signature on the document, Warner does agree “ fully waive any and all claims related to the termination (of) his employment with (the) ODNR/ODW.”


Warner signed the five-page settlement August 4th while Natural Resources Director James Zehringer added his signature August 24th.


All of this came about as Warner sought legal relief by filing a civil service appeal with the Ohio Personnel Board of Review as well as submitting an appeal in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas.


Originally, Warner was indicted in July, 2012 for alleged theft in office – a fifth degree felony, alleged tampering with records – a third degree felony, and alleged dereliction of duty – a third degree misdemeanor.


Those charges were swapped out in November, 2012. That was Warner agreed before the Brown County Court of Common Pleas to plead “no contest” to a pair of lesser misdemeanors: obstruction of official business as well as unauthorized use of property.


Warner also agreed to pay restitution to the Wildlife Division for wages he did not earn, a keystone item demanded by Brown County Prosecutor Jessica Little as a condition linked to the reduction of charges.

Based on information supplied by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, on May 13, 2013 Warner issued a check for $708.76 to the agency's director, James Zehringer.

All of these alleged misdeeds came about as a result of an Ohio Inspector General investigation. That investigation alleged how Warner – along with Wildlife Division commissioned officer Matthew Roberts - hunted while on duty and then allegedly “fudged” their time slips to incorrectly say they were on duty at the time.


Subsequently, Warner was fired September 21, 2012 while Roberts was discharged September 28, 2012.


Yet that was then and this is now as Warner has again put on his Wildlife Division-issued uniform, working since August 8th in the agency’s Wildlife District One (Central Ohio) environs.


And the mutually acceptable settlement notes in legal jargon how both parties want to put the affair behind them and to move on.


“Except as specifically set forth herein, Warner and (the) ODNR/ODW wish to bring a complete, final and irreversible end to any and all claims and disputes…” which have been raised or ever will be raised regarding the issue related to the Warner matter.

Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Jeff is the retired News-Herald reporter who  covered the earth sciences, the area's three county park systems and the outdoors for the newspaper. During his 30 years with The News-Herald Jeff was the recipient of more than 100 state, regional and national journalism awards. He also is a columnist and features writer for the Ohio Outdoor News, which is published every other week and details the outdoors happenings in the state.


1 comment:

  1. Stunning yet not surprising that the same ODNR and ODW who felt they were above the law before hired back this convicted crook.