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Civil suit by ex-police chief settled

Published July 23. 2013 05:01PM

John Wieczorek, chairman of the Mahoning Township Board of Supervisors, announced a pair of formal settlements involving two civil suits against the township have been resolved.

One was filed by former Police Chief Kenneth Barnes against Mahoning Township and Supervisors John Wieczorek, Linda Benner and Franklin Ruch.

The other was filed by police applicant Maria Lesinski against the township and Supervisors Wieczorek and Benner.

Both settlements were approved at a special meeting of the supervisors on July 12.

"Former Chief Barnes entered into a mutual settlement and general release with no liability or wrongdoing admitted on the part of either party," said Wieczorek as part of a formal statement.

He revealed the township settled with Barnes for $50,000 paid out of the insurance liability pool while the mutual release was signed between the named supervisors and Barnes.

In a similar statement, Wieczorek announced that the township paid $22,500 in settlement to Lesinski from the insurance liability pool. Wieczorek and Benner signed a mutual release and general settlement agreement with her as well.

As part of both general settlements and releases, both Barnes and Lesinski, as well as the supervisors agreed there would be no admission of wrongdoing or liability on the part of any affected parties essentially permanently settling the lawsuit.

The only statement Wieczorek made at the conclusion of the prepared statement is that the long process was over.

All that is publicly known about the Lesinski suit was that she applied for a job in the township in 2011 and was interviewed, but after that she alleged discrimination and irregularities in the interview process.

With regard to Barnes, the problems surfaced in the winter of 2011 when a pair of complaint letters to the Bureau of Labor and Industry from Barnes separately reported problems with fuel tanks and unsafe working conditions in the building.

The supervisors immediately addressed the fuel tank problems with a new installation that cost the township several thousand dollars.

The complaints about the building ultimately led to supervisors building a pole building to the rear of the municipal building in order to house the road crew and satisfy L&I's guidelines.

Barnes went on medical leave in February 2012 and resigned in December of that year. In November he filed a lawsuit against the aforementioned supervisors that alleged a hostile work environment. It was this suit and Lesinski's the board settled and announced at last night's meeting.

Wieczorek declined interview requests after last night's meeting, saying that the statement made at the end of the meeting was all that will be said on the subject.

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