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Sheriff to appeal ruling reinstating Ohio CO

CO was fired a year ago after he allowed his cousin to move in with him three months after being discharged from prison

By Denise G. Callahan
Dayton Daily News

BUTLER COUNTY, Ohio — Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones will appeal a judge’s decision to make him rehire a corrections officer he fired for allegedly associating with a known criminal.

Jones fired corrections officer Joshua Bowling a year ago after he allowed his cousin to move in with him three months after being discharged from prison. The sheriff said his employees are not allowed to “associate” with known criminals, a provision that is spelled out in their contracts.

Bowling filed a grievance through his union and the case went to arbitration. The arbitrator, Terry A. Bethel, recommended a two-week suspension for Bowling versus termination, a finding the sheriff rejected.

Butler County Common Pleas Court Judge Keith Spaeth upheld the arbitrator’s ruling and ordered Jones to rehire Bowling but has since decided Bowling doesn’t deserve prejudgment interest on the estimated $70,000 he is owed in back pay.

“The arbitrator found that Mr. Bowling was not only insubordinate but was not a credible witness. The record clearly supports such a finding by the arbitrator,” Spaeth wrote in his ruling. “As a matter of public policy, the court is not inclined to award prejudgment interest in this case. In addition, equity does not support an award of prejudgment interest. The record does not reflect any improper conduct on the part of the Sheriff’s Office.”

Chief Tony Dwyer said now that the judge ruled on the interest issue and his ruling is final, the sheriff will take the matter up to the 12 District Court of Appeals. Bowling will remain on the off-duty roster while the appeals process proceeds.

Bethel, the arbitrator, decided that since Bowling’s cousin wasn’t in the Butler County Jail, wasn’t a “notorious criminal” and would not “substantially impair the reputation” of the sheriff’s office, firing him wasn’t warranted. Supervisors also told the arbitrator Bowling has a history of insubordination. The arbitrator said supervisors cited 11 times Bowling was disciplined, the worst being when he allegedly provoked a physical altercation with inmates and was suspended for three days in 2006.

Bowling’s attorney could not be reached for comment.

Copyright 2014 the Dayton Daily News