Thursday, September 30, 2004

Warren Co. court worker demoted

Staffer linked to Powers missed work

By Janice Morse
Enquirer staff writer

LEBANON - A Warren County Court employee whose overtime and relationship with Judge Dallas Powers are under investigation has been demoted after unexcused absences from work.

In a letter dated Tuesday, Judge James Heath told Libbie Gerondale, a probation officer since July 10, that she is being returned to her former position of probation clerk. Her pay rate will decrease, but the amount was unavailable Wednesday.

Heath warned Gerondale that her employment with the court could be in jeopardy because she did not come to work two days in a row and did not call in sick either day, according to the letter.

Records Wednesday showed Gerondale last reported to work a week ago.

Friday, Gerondale had called to say she was going to be late because of an orthodontist's appointment but then never showed up for work, Heath's letter said.

"These are serious issues. They could constitute part of the basis to terminate your employment with the County Court," Heath's letter warns.

Heath instructed Gerondale to turn in her probation badge, stun weapon and business cards bearing the title "probation officer."

Gerondale's attorney, Bill Kaufman, did not immediately return messages left at his home and office Wednesday.

Powers has been on a voluntary, paid leave since Aug. 30, when sexual-harassment allegations involving him and Gerondale surfaced. Investigators are also scrutinizing the 407 hours of overtime pay Gerondale accumulated in eight months. Her attorney has said the pay was legitimately earned.

Gerondale was on duty last Thursday before testifying on behalf of her nephew, who is accused of drug charges in Common Pleas Court.

During her testimony, Gerondale denied any special relationship with Powers.


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