By FRED MAIN
News City Editor
MOUNT VERNON — After being on paid administrative leave for nearly three months as an investigation into his paramedic credentials was completed, Shawn Christy submitted a letter of resignation as fire chief for the city of Mount Vernon.
Christy and city administration signed a resignation agreement Friday, Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Mavis announced at a press conference Friday afternoon.
The agreement included Christy’s resignation, which was effective Aug. 19, the final compensation for Christy, which is any unused vacation pay, and a letter of employment reference from the city for Christy.
“Mr. Christy has shown his commitment to the safety and welfare of the City of Mount Vernon by his management and dedication to the fire department during his tenure,” the reference letter states.
Per the agreement, Christy waives all rights for re-employment in the city, will return any city property in his possession and will not file any lawsuit against the city for claims released by the agreement.
“The city felt this was an opportunity for us to separate our relationship with Mr. Christy and move on,” said Mavis. “With this kind of event, it always creates a cloud (for the department). That’s one of the reasons I wanted this thing expedited. … I feel, yes, this has been a factor and [firefighters] all will be pleased this is done with.”
Christy was placed on paid administrative leave June 2 by the city after the Ohio Department of Public Safety said it was looking into his paramedic credentials. The city then began an investigation into Christy and his credentials, led by the assistant city law director Rob Broeren and Mount Vernon Police Detective Craig Feeney.
A predisciplinary hearing was held July 27 with Christy, his attorney David Clauss, Broeren and city Safety-Service Director Dave Glass. The city shared the information they had obtained in the investigation with Christy and Clauss, and waited for a response.
Mavis said during discussions with Christy’s attorney following the hearing, the idea of Christy resigning from the position was brought up. After some back-and-forth dialogue between the parties, the agreement signed Friday was reached.
“There was some tweaking in that. That went back and forth, the information was that Shawn was willing to sign an agreement,” Mavis said. “Beginning last Friday and through the earlier days of this week, that was the information we kept getting from attorneys, was he was willing to sign.
“There was some language there, I had a couple of concerns and they had a couple of concerns … in the last few days, there’s been a lot of back and forth. We weren’t sure when we were going to get the signed document.”
The search for a new fire chief will take a minimum of five to six weeks, according to Civil Service Director Tony DeIuliis. The position must be posted for a week, then there is a 30-day study period before the test, which must have more than one person take, can be administrated. Once the results are finalized, a chief will then be named, DeIuliis said.
While that search is ongoing, assistant chief Chris Menapace will continue the duties of head of the fire department. Menapace did acknowledge he would take the fire chief’s test.
Mavis said it was up to the investigators as to whether or not any charges will be filed against Christy. William Smith, city law director, was not available for comment Friday afternoon.
According to a document received by the News from Smith in regard to a public records request, some items requested were unavailable as public record “for the reason that they are confidential law enforcement records and trial preparation records. … even information that is not subject to discovery pursuant to Criminal Rule 16(B), continued in the file of a prosecutor who is prosecuting a criminal matter, is not subject to release as a public record.”
When asked if the prosecutor’s office has received a file on Christy from MVPD to review for possible charges, Knox County Prosecutor John Thatcher said he could not comment on the matter.
According to public records, since August 2006 when Christy was named fire chief, his signature is on 24 training attendance sheets for continuing education credit sessions. There were no certificates of completion for the training in the public records request.
Christy’s EMS card remains in limbo as the Ohio Department of Public Safety continues its investigation into his recertification credentials. He was not on the EMS Board’s agenda for the August review meeting. The next meeting will take place in October, although it is unclear as to whether or not Christy will be on the agenda for that meeting.