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Judge sets hearing, says probation officer didn't resign as required in plea deal

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ELYRIA — Three weeks after accepting a plea agreement in Elyria Municipal Court that stipulated he would not work as a probation officer ever again, Bryan Thomas has yet to resign from his position with Lorain County Adult Probation.

Now, due to the inaction by Thomas, Lorain County Common Pleas Judge Chris Cook has scheduled a pre-disciplinary hearing on the matter for Dec. 7.

Thomas, 58, of Elyria, had been indicted on misdemeanor charges of dereliction of duty, sexual imposition and menacing in Elyria Municipal Court in August before visiting Judge John Ridge. Thomas’ case was scheduled for a bench trial

Nov. 8, but Thomas instead pleaded guilty to an amended indictment in which the dereliction of duty charge was amended to disturbing a lawful meeting, which is a fourth-degree misdemeanor. The charges of sexual imposition and menacing were dismissed.

Thomas was sentenced to 30 days in jail and fined $250, but the jail sentence was suspended by Ridge.

In exchange, Thomas agreed “that he shall never again work as a probation officer ... or a job that performs equivalent functions ... under any local, state or federal jurisdiction in the United States.” Thomas further agreed “that he will not return to employment with the Lorain County Probation Department,” according to court documents.

In a letter dated Nov. 30 to Thomas’ attorneys Daniel Wightman and Michael Duff informing them of the hearing, Cook explained that he had “anticipated receiving a letter of resignation shortly thereafter.”

“When said resignation was not immediately forthcoming, I spoke to Attorney Duff about the matter and he represented that they were ‘working on it,’” Cook’s letter said. “I informed Attorney Duff that that was fine, but I expected the resignation today. Since no resignation has been tendered, please be advised that I have scheduled a pre-disciplinary hearing.”

The court is considering taking disciplinary action against Thomas, the letter said, which “could be suspension, termination of employment, or some other adverse job action.”

The plea agreement reached with prosecutors in Elyria Municipal Court also stipulates that if Thomas is found in breach of the agreement about his employment, the state can prosecute him on the original charges. There also is no statute of limitations on the prosecution period, according to court documents.

“I’m disappointed that we have not received a resignation from Mr. Thomas, given the resolution reached,” Cook said. “As such, we’re going to move forward on our end.”

Duff said he had not yet received Cook’s letter when reached for comment, but he said he anticipates “being able to obtain a resignation from (Thomas) in a timely manner.”

Cook said if he receives Thomas’ resignation prior to the hearing date, the hearing will be canceled.

Thomas, who has been with Adult Probation since April 2010, was placed on paid administrative leave while an investigation into allegations against him was underway. In July, a Lorain County grand jury indicted Thomas on the misdemeanor counts, and his leave was shifted to unpaid.

Contact Scott Mahoney at (440) 329-7146 or smahoney@chroniclet.com. Follow him on Twitter @SMahoneyCT.


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