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Former Newton Falls police chief disputes firing

Fixler’s appeal claims council vote didn’t reach a two-thirds majority-thirds

WARREN — The attorney for former Newton Falls police Chief Gene Fixler has filed a notice of appeal of Fixler’s firing with the Trumbull County Common Pleas Court.

“This appeal concerns questions of law and fact,” wrote Daniel J. Leffler, chief legal adviser for the Ohio Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association in his one-page filing Thursday.

Village council in a 3-2 vote on Jan. 5 opted to remove Fixler from office, with Mayor Ken Kline breaking the tie with a “yes” vote.

Leffler said at the time the vote was not enough to remove Fixler as a two-thirds majority was not reached.

Newton Falls Law Director Alfred Schrader said he has no comment about the filing.

“We argue these matters in court,” Schrader said in an email.

Council members John Baryak and Mike Serotko voted to fire Fixler, while Chris Granchie and Julie Stimpert voted against. Councilwoman Tesa Spletzer recused herself from the public hearing and vote.

Prior to the vote, council went into executive session and after 90 minutes made the split decision

Fixler had said the efforts to remove him from office are “a witch hunt.”

Prior to the executive session that day, council held a more-than-three-hour public hearing, in which charges of dereliction of duty and malfeasance were brought against Fixler and he responded.

In October, Fixler was placed on paid administrative leave for 30 days pending a full investigation of the police department.

The investigation revealed several issues, including Fixler’s handling of an out-of-jurisdiction incident involving a man who was impaired and later was involved in a fatal accident in Portage County.

The appeal will be handled by Judge Andrew D. Logan, who has not scheduled any hearings in the matter. Notices have gone out to the village and Pamela Priddy, interim manager of the village, as well as a memo to village secretary Katherine King asking for a complete transcript of all paperwork, testimony and other exhibits that went into the proceedings against Fixler.

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