Blame goes around at Nuesse hearing

SANDUSKY Accusations flew back and forth so often Monday at the Nuesse Civil Service hearing, it was
jasonsinger
May 24, 2010

SANDUSKY

Accusations flew back and forth so often Monday at the Nuesse Civil Service hearing, it was like watching a world championship ping-pong match.

Investigator Michael Murman accused fired police Chief Kim Nuesse of violating state law during her tenure.

Find complete coverage of the Nuesse saga HERE.

City commissioners Brett Fuqua and Craig Stahl accused Nuesse of misleading them about the city dispatch system's vulnerability.

Fuqua accused Erie County Sheriff Terry Lyons of lying about who would run a countywide dispatch system.

And everyone accused ex-commissioner Brian Crandall of being "abrasive" and difficult to work with.

But the newest accusation came from Murman, who led the city-commissioned investigation of Nuesse. Murman said Nuesse illegally accepted tickets to Cedar Point and Soak City from Cedar Point police Chief Ray Majoy, and Murman said he considered having her prosecuted.

"It certainly was enough to obtain an indictment," he said.

His testimony was in direct response to Day 1 of the hearing, when Nuesse testified that she received the tickets from a peer, which is legal according to Ohio law.

Nuesse said both her and Majoy were chiefs of police, which according to one of many dictionary definitions, makes them peers.

But Murman called Nuesse "a superior officer" to Majoy, because Cedar Point's police department is smaller than Sandusky's.

"To accept a gift from an inferior officer, that's even worse than accepting the tickets from the president of Cedar Point himself," Murman said.

In his three hours of testimony, Murman also accused Nuesse of dishonesty, called her judgment and behavior "erratic," and said she "weasled out" of a parking ticket. He said if Nuesse wanted to void the parking ticket, she should have gotten it approved.

In cross-examination K. Ronald Bailey, Nuesse's attorney, said Nuesse did get it approved. He asked Murman why his investigators didn't interview two city managers, Mike Will and Don Miears, under whom Nuesse worked.

"Were you aware that one of them (Don Miears) called your report 'a piece of crap'?"

Murman cleared his throat and quietly answered, "No, I wasn't aware of that."

Bailey said Miears would have told the Murman investigators he approved the voiding of the ticket, if they would have asked him. He also said former Sandusky police Lt. Gary Frankowski confirmed this in his statement to the Murman investigators.

Murman declined to be photographed or tape-recorded while testifying.

In the afternoon portion of the hearing, commissioners Stahl and Fuqua testified that Nuesse incorrectly led them to believe the city's dispatch system needed to be immediately replaced. Nearly all of the city's witnesses have testified to this throughout the hearing.

"I thought we were on the verge of collapse, I thought the next 9-1-1 call wouldn't go through," Stahl said. "I was scared. I was flat-out scared for our citizens."

Stahl said he believed Nuesse misled him because the system is still working, and because he later received conflicting information from other sources.

Fuqua said he was told by acting police chief Charlie Sams that Nuesse secretly tape-recorded a phone call between Fuqua and Nuesse in the presence of Register managing editor Matt Westerhold, and consequently Fuqua could no longer trust her.

Westerhold said no such incident took place and it doesn't build confidence when city officials take drastic actions based on rumors.

"This is at least the third version of this part of the story that city officials have told. They keep changing this story," he said. "Nobody ever asked me. This rumor, this hearsay wasn't investigated by Murman's team of investigators. Obviously this was not a search for the truth. It was a search for a lie that would stick."

Fuqua also implicitly accused another local official -- Sheriff Lyons -- of lying. According to Fuqua, Lyons said Ohio Revised Code mandated that the sheriff, not police Chief Nuesse, must run all county dispatch systems. Fuqua later learned this wasn't true.

The hearing took one last twist when the lawyers and Judge Joseph Cirigliano canceled the rest of the scheduled hearings for 2008, except for two in mid-December. The lawyers from both sides couldn't find any other mutually open dates.