Mon. 11:20 a.m.: 40-day suspension of Warren city worker upheld

WARREN — Safety Service Director Enzo Cantalamessa ruled this morning that a 40-day unpaid suspension given last month to city operation department employee Celestino DiVieste was appropriate.

DiVieste was found guilty of gross misuse of city equipment, dereliction of duty and being absent without leave after an investigation found that on May 3, he took his city-owned vehicle while on city time to a local restaurant for about 2 1/2 hours to conduct personal business.

The city employee asked for a grievance hearing to argue against the severity of punishment, arguing the city has an agreement with American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees that punishments are supposed to be progressive.

Cantalamessa answered that DiVieste’s offenses are serious and warrant a significant penalty.

“Grievant’s (DiVieste’s) actions set a bad example for all employees and cannot be tolerated,” Cantalamessa wrote in his ruling. “Not all discipline must be progressive; the severity of the offense in this case negates the use of progressive discipline.

“The degree of discipline is reasonably related to the seriousness of the offense,” Cantalamessa wrote in his response. “Grievance denied.”

With this rejection of his grievance, DiVieste and his representatives may now seek to have an arbitrator review the details of the case and rule.

Some in the community, including at least one councilman, believe Cantalamessa should have recused himself from the investigation and subsequent hearings and rulings because DiVieste is his uncle.