Trustees settle with DiPietro

The Miami Twp trustees voted 2-1 Tuesday to settle a wrongful termination lawsuit with former Deputy Chief John DiPietro.

The trustees voted to pay DiPietro $75,000 — $50,000 from township funds with the rest to be paid from the Ohio Township Association risk management pool, according to the agreement and a resolution approved by the trustees.

DiPietro’s lawyer had filed a motion on Tuesday, Oct. 2, calling for Judge Michael Krumholtz to enforce the order he issued in DiPietro’s administrative appeal. A hearing was set for Nov. 7.

The agreement, approved after an executive session Tuesday, includes a clause agreeing not “to publicly disparage or make derogatory comments” about the settlement. Trustees Mike Nolan and Charlie Lewis, who voted for the agreement, declined comment afterward.

“This investigation was mishandled from the beginning,” said Trustee Deborah Preston, who voted against the agreement. “We should not be paying out precious tax money.”

Preston is not seeking re-election in November, while Nolan is.

“I’d certainly like to tell more of the story here on what has transpired over the last 15 months,” DiPietro said late Tuesday, but he declined to comment further because of the agreement between the two sides.

The administrative appeal lawsuit was settled a month ago out of court, but the trustees previously had not approved the agreement.

DiPietro was fired for violations of professional code by the trustees this spring after a Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office internal investigation found him guilty of wrongdoing in July 2012 when he allowed a 17-year-old girl to strip while being hosed down with water to counteract pepper spray. He also took of picture of her tattoo and sent it to a friend.

After his Feb. 13 termination, DiPietro’s attorney Richard Lipowicz on Feb. 19 filed an appeal with the Montgomery County Common Pleas Court. In April, DiPietro was approved for a disability benefit from the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System.

In June, the township paid $100,000 to the girl and her family in exchange for the family agreeing not to sue.

Court documents show DiPietro was seeking unpaid sick pay accrued during 26 years, back pay and reinstatement, though Lipowicz has said DiPietro would not be going back to work for the township’s police department no matter how the case was resolved.

Krumholtz ruled in July that the procedure of DiPietro’s termination conducted by the trustees was invalid because the complaint came from former police Chief John Krug and not the trustees. Krug retired in June.

An evidentiary hearing to recreate testimony from that first day of hearings was set and later rescheduled for today and Friday. Lipowicz had subpoenaed trustees Nolan and Preston, fiscal officer Ann Culp and former administrator Greg Hanahan, whose job was terminated in February.

The township’s attorney, Edward Dowd, argued to quash the subpoenas, writing that those four people’s potential testimony “could require the disclosure of privileged or otherwise protected matters and is not relevant to the matters at issue in this case.”

Lipowicz alleged in court documents that Preston told the Unemployment Compensation Review Commission that “Nolan was predisposed to terminate DiPietro, and that the Board made its decision to terminate based on media pressure.”