Newly appointed Stark County Sheriff George Maier was back in the office Thursday getting briefed on the department's activities over the past 36 days, answering questions from reporters about a bank robbery and appeared on local radio talk shows to discuss his plans for the office. He will get his state-required bond Friday.
Newly appointed Stark County Sheriff George Maier wasn't kidding Wednesday when he said he was ready to get to work.
Just hours after county Democrats selected Maier as sheriff, the former Massillon safety-service director was sworn in by Massillon Municipal Court Judge Edward Elum at a Massillon restaurant. He then visited the sheriff's office.
"I wanted to stop by and walk through the jail and greet some folks ... to try to put some people's minds at ease that we are going to get back to business as usual," Maier said.
On Thursday morning, Maier was back in the office getting briefed on the department's activities during the past 36 days, answering questions from reporters about a bank robbery and appeared on local radio talk shows to discuss his plans for the office.
Maier said not much has changed since he left the department Nov. 6, following the Ohio Supreme Court's ruling that he did meet the full-time law enforcement experience requirements needed to qualify for sheriff. The court had removed Maier, reinstated longtime Sheriff Timothy Swanson and ordered the Stark County Democratic Party's Central Committee to appoint a sheriff to fill the seat vacated by Michael McDonald, who voters had elected sheriff but resigned in January due to a terminal illness. The central committee on Wednesday appointed Maier with 61 percent of the 166 votes cast.
Maier also doesn't plan to enact major changes right away either. He said Thursday that he will not reissue new concealed-carry permits to replace the roughly 2,000 licenses that retired Sheriff Timothy Swanson mailed to permit holders last month.
"We are not going to burden CCW permit holders with this nonsense," Maier said. "If they have a permit, whether it's in my name or Swanson's name, their permits are good."
Sheriff Lt. Louis Darrow previously said Swanson chose to replace the permits issued during the nine months Maier served as sheriff because the office received calls from residents concerned that their license was invalid due to Maier's removal. Maier viewed the decision as a smear campaign.
Maier also said the office will use the remaining stationery that bears his name and not buy new. He said residents will notice his name on the side of the department's new 11 cruisers that soon will be on the road, but said the name came as part of the vehicle's decal package and wasn't an added expense.
By mid-afternoon Thursday, Maier was driving to Columbus to finalize some of the paperwork he needs before he could officially take over as sheriff.
Commissioners will complete the process at 11 a.m. today when they meets to approve Maier's state-required bonds. A bond guarantees that public funds, up to the bond amount, are protected. All county officials must have one before taking office. A sheriff must carry three bonds: For federal law-enforcement funds the office receives, to cover sheriff employees and to cover the sheriff himself. The cost of securing the bonds is $1,400, according to the county administrator.
During today's special board meeting, commissioners are expected to first cancel the previous bonds Maier held when he served as sheriff from Feb. 7 to Nov. 6. The board will then issue new bonds for the same amounts that will be retroactive to Wednesday, the day of Maier's appointment.
After the board meeting, Maier will once again administer the oath of office for the more than 100 sheriff employees.
LEGAL UPDATE: MAIER SEEKS DISMISSAL
George Maier has asked a Stark County Common Pleas Court judge to dismiss a taxpayer lawsuit that seeks to have Maier repay the county $123,583 for the nine months he spent working as county sheriff.
In a motion filed this week, Maier's attorneys, Thomas L. Rosenberg and Michael R. Traven, said the court should dismiss the complaint filed by Bethlehem Township resident Thomas Marcelli because Maier acted as sheriff under the authority of the Stark County Democratic Central Committee's appointment and performed the duties to earn his salary and benefits. They said Maier never personally received the money used to affix his name to department signage, secure his state-required bond or cover the attorney fees tied to the fight for the office.
Maier's attorneys also questioned the motives for the lawsuit, noting that Marcelli's attorney, Craig Conley, has participated in radio call-in shows and wrote letters to the media that expressed an intent to use the judicial system to promote a political agenda.
Marcelli has asked the court to force Maier to return to taxpayers $88,511 in salary and benefits, $13,671 used by Maier to put his name on signs, vehicles and stationery, $1,400 to secure a bond for Maier and $20,000 in attorney fees. He said the Supreme Court has ruled that Maier did not meet the legal qualifications to be sheriff and had illegally held the office between February and Nov. 6.
DECISION LIKELY FRIDAY
Attorney Gregory Beck, who represents retired Sheriff Timothy Swanson, said Thursday that he expects that he and Swanson will make a decision today about whether to once again challenge whether Maier meets the legal qualifications for sheriff.
The Ohio Supreme Court agreed with Swanson's first challenge and removed Maier on Nov. 6. Maier has said that he now satisfies the law enforcement requirement because he worked as a full-time deputy at the Harrison County Sheriff's Office.
Beck has said that he believes Maier's additional job in Harrison County doesn't count and has questioned whether Maier meets the law's requirement that a sheriff serve as a supervisor at a rank of sergeant or above for at least two years.
Maier believes his four years as the assistant director of the Ohio Department of Public Safety meets the requirement.
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