LISBON - A labor grievance was filed recently after Columbiana County Commissioner Mike Halleck and county Republican Party Chairman David Johnson helped post bond to get a friend out of jail.
The grievance was filed by a sheriff's deputy because no deputy was used to escort the person from the county jail to the sheriff's office to post bond. The person was escorted instead by a correction's officer from the jail, which is run by a private company under contract with commissioners.
Halleck was surprised to learn a grievance had been filed over something he described as "silly" and ultimately a waste of tax dollars.
"The bottom line is he was escorted down the stairs by someone who is non-union," he said. "There wasn't a single union person available, and the only other option was to call a deputy in off the road to walk someone down 14 steps. That's insane."
The person bonded out was Jack Marshall II, 34, of Columbiana, who was picked up by the sheriff's office at 5:35 p.m. Nov. 19 on an arrest warrant for failing to pay $275 in fines owed following his conviction on traffic offenses earlier in the year.
Halleck said he received a call at home that evening asking for help in posting the $650 bond needed for Marshall to be released from jail. Halleck said Johnson also knows Marshall and accompanied him to the sheriff's office.
After Marshall received his release paperwork at the jail, he went to the sheriff's office to post bond to secure his release. The sheriff's office is located down a flight of outside steps from the jail, and Marshall was accompanied by a correction's officer.
The grievance alleges this violated the labor agreement because a member of the bargaining unit representing deputies and dispatchers should have escorted Marshall since this is work that is to be performed by union members. The deputy and the eight others who have signed on to the grievance so far are each seeking two hours overtime pay.
Sheriff Ray Stone said Halleck called him at home that evening wanting to know how he could go about posting bond. Stone was unsure of exactly how it worked but told Halleck he believed they would not accept a personal check or cash.
Nov. 19 was a Saturday, and Stone learned what occurred when he returned to work on Nov. 21. He said it his understanding Halleck and Johnson had discussed the bonding requirements with the sheriff's dispatchers, who contacted Chief Deputy Allen Haueter at home and he told them to follow procedures. The dispatchers are designated as special deputy clerk of courts for the purpose of processing jail bonds.
Halleck then called Shane Patrone, deputy county clerk of courts, about what it would take to get Marshall out of jail. Patrone allowed Halleck to write a personal check for the bond.
Patrone said as a matter of policy they normally refuse personal checks because they do not want to get stuck chasing bad checks, but they have made exceptions. "This is not the first time we've approved a personal check if we know the person and they live in the county," he said.
As for the grievance, Stone said their policy has been to require people posting bond be accompanied to the sheriff's office by a deputy, but sometimes a bail bondsman is allowed to escort their client from the jail to the sheriff's office without a deputy.
If none are readily available, then a deputy is called in off the road, which is what occurred on Nov. 19. "They were on the road like normal. A deputy was called but he was busy on another call," Stone said. "It's not a priority with us. We don't drop everything just to bond someone out."
Halleck knows the sheriff's office is understaffed and it made no sense to call in a deputy from the road just to escort Marshall from the jail to the sheriff's office, which he estimated took 30 seconds. Rather than wait, Halleck said the correction's officer escorted him.
The grievance stated Halleck and Johnson accompanied Marshall from the jail to the sheriff's office, which Halleck said is false. Halleck said he and Johnson waited in the sheriff's office.
Halleck noted the deputy who filed the grievance has an extensive history of filing similar "frivolous" complaints that have cost taxpayers more than $5,000 per instance to defend.
"If sometime next year someone has to be laid off (in the sheriff's office) due to lack of funds, I hope they go to him and ask him why," he said.