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Published: Thursday, 8/15/2002

Jailed city worker resigns after using all his days off

Gabriel Garza, whose East Toledo home burned down, causing the deaths of four children, has resigned from his city of Toledo job because he is in jail and can't get to work.

Mr. Garza resigned Tuesday to avoid being fired for absence from work without leave because he had run out of vacation and sick days, said John Loftus, a city assistant chief operating officer. Mr. Garza, 45, has been in jail in lieu of $250,000 bond since his arrest July 17.

He was indicted July 29 on nine counts of pandering obscenity involving a minor, three counts of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material or performance, and one count of gross sexual imposition. Police found pictures of young girls in various stages of undress in the debris at 618 Willard St., where four girls died in a fire July 14. Killed were Julie Kaintz, 17; Brandi Chapman, 12; Mianna Moore, 11, and Melanie Murphy, 3.

Mr. Garza, owner of the home, and Tina Bocanegra, 14, survived. The fire, which started on the front porch, was ruled accidental. During a search of the fire debris, Toledo police found pornographic photos in several albums and binders of Internet pornography.

Mr. Garza was employed by the city since 1995 as a water main and service repair worker in the Department of Public Utilities. His most recent pay rate was $14.84 an hour. He last worked July 12, two days before the fire that destroyed his home. Don Czerniak, president of American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Local 7, said resignation preserves Mr. Garza's employment record when he looks for a job.

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