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The Suburbanite
  • City Hall theft case may be tied to retire/rehire probe

  • The documents allegedly stolen from Canton City Hall are believed to be connected to the city’s retire and rehire probe. Police are still investigating the July theft reported in the law department. The service director says that security will be enhanced in the eight-story building.

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  • The documents reported stolen from City Hall apparently are related to the city’s retire-and-rehire investigation.
    Law Director Joseph Martuccio told police that the documents went missing from the top of an assistant law director’s desk during nonbusiness hours July 17 or 18.
    He reported the theft to police on Aug. 3 a few days after returning from vacation.
    Martuccio would not specify the nature of the documents Thursday, citing the ongoing police investigation.
    However, the documents are believed to be tied to the city’s investigation into 30 employees who were fired after the administration said they were not properly rehired after retiring to start receiving a state pension with no intention of leaving their city jobs. The records may be related specifically to the state auditor office’s financial-related review of the case.
    The police investigation into the alleged theft at City Hall nearly is finished, Police Chief Bruce Lawver said Friday. He said the detective on the case may have more interviews to conduct.
    “We’re not dragging our feet but we have to be thorough,” Lawver said. “We want to make sure we exhaust everything that’s there.”
    Service Director Warren Price confirmed Friday that he’s been interviewed because he oversees the eight-story City Hall building.
    STATE AUDITOR’S OFFICE
    At the request of Price, the state auditor’s office agreed in February to review how much money the 30 former employees may owe the city and how much the city may owe them for accrued vacation, sick time and other benefits.
    The administration has said the 30 employees may have received improper pay and benefits because, under civil service or union rules, the workers should have reapplied and retested for their jobs after retiring. The workers should have started at lower wages and with reduced benefits such as vacation, Price has said, but they did not take a pay cut.
    The state agency’s services are not expected to exceed $9,225, according to a “letter of arrangement” between the city and the office.
    Michael Maurer, a spokesman in the state auditor’s office, said Friday that the agency’s review has not been completed.
    Assistant Law Director Kristen Bates Aylward said she was told by the state office Friday that the review should be completed in 30 days.
    The Repository filed a public records request on Friday with the state auditor’s office, law department and mayor’s office for records and correspondence related to the state auditor’s financial review in the retire and rehire case.
    Martuccio said he has asked Bates Aylward to evaluate the request to determine which documents should remain confidential or privileged, which should not and when some of them would become public records.
    Page 2 of 2 - ‘SAFETY PRECAUTIONS’
    Mayor William J. Healy II said security will be enhanced at City Hall. “I was very concerned,” he said of the alleged theft.
    “My service and safety director are both very involved to try to make sure ... if this was an external breach that this doesn’t happen again,” Healy said Friday.
    “Safety precautions” will be taken, he said.
    Healy said he did not know any details about the documents at the center of the theft case. “I’m not aware of what’s missing and to what extent,” he said.
    Price said the law department’s manual punch code door locks will be replaced and updated with more modern technology.
    Door-lock systems vary among departments. An electronic code system controls access on the eighth floor — the mayor’s office.
    A “key fob” system, utilized in some other parts of City Hall, will be implemented for the law department offices on the seventh floor and possibly on other floors that have older-style door locks, depending on available funding, Price said.
    The “key fob” system tracks and records the use of the individual “key fob” devices — small pieces of security hardware with authentication mechanisms.
    “Naturally I’m distressed and very concerned about the allegations that there may have been a theft on the seventh floor in our law department as the statutory caretaker of (City Hall),” Price said.
    Martuccio said he does not suspect any of his employees or members of the maintenance crew of removing the documents.
    The investigation “should be brought to a close fairly quickly and it does not appear at this point that the Police Department has verified that there was even an unauthorized entry,” he said. “I still remain very concerned that something happened. The question is what and I don’t know that we’ll ever know.”
    Price called the reported theft unprecedented at City Hall.
    “Ultimately, I’d like to secure the stairwells and also restrict elevator access after hours,” he said. “We should be able to program the elevator software to restrict access to the (City Hall) tower section after hours so only those with access can go to certain floors.”
    Price said his goal is to “create an end result where no one can move around City Hall ... after hours from floor to floor or within the private office spaces without being tracked by some electronic system.”