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Published: Wednesday, 10/10/2001

Officer and volunteer sue Swanton

SWANTON - A Swanton police officer and a former auxiliary officer have slapped the village with a federal lawsuit charging violations of their civil rights.

Ronald Moore, a full-time police officer, and John Noack, a Findlay private investigator who was a volunteer auxiliary officer, are asking for $9 million in damages.

Named as defendants are Swanton Mayor Tandy Grubbs, former Mayor Gary Moore, council members William Belinger, Jim Bu|shong, Robert Gill, Henry Heffner, Pam Moore, and Jeff Pilliod, village administrator John Syx, and police Chief Homer Chapa.

Mrs. Moore is Ronald Moore's wife. Gary Moore is not related to Ronald Moore.

The lawsuit, filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Toledo, claims that the two men were denied promotion and hiring because of discrimination, that they were treated unfairly in other ways, and that their incomes and reputations suffered.

"The village has gone out of its way to ensure that certain members of ethnic groups and relatives have got advancement while other [police] officers have not," Mr. Noack said yesterday from his Findlay office. "Council and the former mayor have known of criminal acts in violation of Ohio law and took no action.''

Mr. Noack was a volunteer officer for Swanton until the little-used auxiliary unit was abolished in June. He said he was promised a paid police department position but did not get one. "I had been given verbal guarantees by the chief. It turned out to be lies. Things will be uncovered when the case goes to court. It will get ugly," Mr. Noack said.

Mr. Moore was not available for comment. He has been a Swanton officer since 1996. In May, he was suspended without pay for three days for what Chief Chapa said was failure to turn in reports on time and failure to respond to an emergency call.

Attorney Sam Eidy of Toledo represents Mr. Moore and Mr. Noack. He did not return calls from The Blade.

Mayor Grubbs said he could not comment on the pending litigation.

A man walked into Monday's council meeting and handed a summons to Mr. Grubbs, each council member, Mr. Syx, and Chief Chapa.

"It was a surprise to me," Mr. Grubbs said. "It seemed to be an inappropriate way to serve us, interrupting a public meeting. It sure wasn't on the agenda."

"It was dramatic, to interrupt a public meeting, not the usual method in federal court," Swanton solicitor Alan Lehenbauer said.

Mr. Lehenbauer said he could not comment yet on the suit. "We really don't know what the specific charges are," he said.

"Here in Swanton, nothing surprises me," said Chief Chapa, acknowledging that Mr. Moore continues to work as an officer and Mr. Noack had been a longtime volunteer.

Mr. Syx also said he had been instructed not to comment.

Swanton officials have 28 days to answer the complaint.



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