New Lebanon council puts 5 village leaders on leave; manager calls it ‘vendetta’

Village manager, police chief, CFO, law director and roads/service chief all ousted in 4-3 vote; manager calls it “outrage” while newly elected council hires law firm to investigate

In a 4-3 vote led by newly elected members, New Lebanon Village Council placed most of the village’s top leadership on administrative leave this week and launched an internal investigation into alleged misconduct. The moves drew a strong response from the ousted village manager, who called the moves an “outrage” tied to “a personal vendetta.”

Council on Tuesday approved a resolution to place Village Manager Glena Madden, Chief Financial Officer Phillip Hinson, Law Director Ronald Keener, Police Chief Curtis Hensley and Service Superintendent Scott Brock on paid administrative leave.

In its election preview coverage last fall, the Dayton Daily News reported claims by one candidate that if elected, new council members planned to fire Madden and others.

Council also launched an investigation into activities in its administrative, financial and legal departments, and hired special counsel to lead the inquiry. The staff on administrative leave will stay in that status pending the outcome of the investigation or until further notice.

Resolutions also were passed by a majority of council to engage the legal services of McNamee Law Group, and to appoint Rob Anderson as acting manager throughout the investigation. Anderson previously served a six-year term as city manager of Fairborn, resigning Dec. 31, 2023.

All three resolutions were approved in 4-3 votes, with Councilmembers Melissa Sexton, Timothy Back, Vice Mayor Nicole Adkins and Mayor David Nickerson voting yes, and Councilmembers Tammy Loch, Gale Joy, and Lyndon Perkins voting no.

Back, Sexton and Nickerson all were newly elected in November.

In a statement to the Dayton Daily News, Madden asserted the actions taken by council will be detrimental to the village.

“This is a unilateral takeover and the citizens should be outraged,” she said via text message, adding that she believes the actions were fueled by a “personal vendetta.”

Madden said she feels Nickerson, who previously served the village as a volunteer firefighter, is seeking retaliation for his termination several years ago.

“His actions are nothing more than a way to seek personal revenge on the administration of the village at the taxpayers’ expense,” Madden wrote. “Sadly, these actions are unprofessional and an embarrassment and will have a long-term, lasting effect on the village of New Lebanon.”

Nickerson declined to comment on the actions both Thursday and Friday. He deferred all questions, including those related to how village operations will be handled during the absence of the five department heads, to attorney Mike McNamee of McNamee Law Group.

“As to ongoing operations, that is not within the scope of my responsibilities, which are solely with the investigation,” McNamee said in a statement to the newspaper. “Rob Anderson … is in place right now and is making those management decisions.”

McNamee went on to say village council is ensuring residents “are protected and services continue uninterrupted.”

The Dayton Daily News tried to reach the other six council members, and the other four leaders put on administrative leave, but they either did not respond to messages seeking comment, or could not be reached.



According to documents filed with the Ohio Auditor of State’s Special Investigations Unit, Nickerson expressed concerns about the village budget and improper use of funds. He requested an emergency audit of village funds.

“With the budget, multiple funds are in the red (by $200,000) already this year,” he said. “We basically have no money in our budget anymore.”

Nickerson, who began his role as mayor just weeks ago after beating incumbent Mayor Raymond Arriola in the November election, further claims he and office staff have proof of falsified records and that police cruisers have been purchased without approval.

A representative for the auditor’s office declined to give details about the claims.

“As this involves an ongoing investigation, we will have no further comment at this time,” the spokesperson said.

The village of New Lebanon undergoes an independent audit every two years that is submitted to the Auditor of State’s office. According to those documents, there have been a few “material weaknesses” in recent audits related to classifying expenses properly. But there have been none of the higher level “findings for recovery” — the state’s term for misspent money — in the most recent decade of audits, through the end of 2022.

Election campaign foreshadowed moves

Christopher Sands, who spent 20 years on New Lebanon Village Council through the end of 2023, predicted some of this week’s moves back in October. He told the Dayton Daily News then that Back, Sexton and Nickerson planned “to fire the village manager and some service department employees.”

In October, Back and Nickerson denied having “a hidden agenda,” which Sands had claimed.

“That’s a strong accusation Mr. Sands is making. I can’t speak for the others, but it’s not true,” Back said in October. “It’s all about working together. The goal is to make sure we are using our tax dollars wisely and stretching them as far as they can possibly go … I’m not going into this to fire anyone, but if they are not doing their job, that’s a different story.”

Nickerson said at the time that the village manager can only be fired for cause.



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