Investigation Clears St. Clairsville Police Chief Jeff Henry; Mayor Terry Pugh Confronts Council

St. Clairsville Police Chief Jeff Henry has been cleared as a result of a discriminatory harassment complaint investigation, but Mayor Terry Pugh raised an issue with the council members.

At the St. Clairsville City Council meeting Monday, Pugh confronted council members individually, saying that the preliminary report was released to the public prematurely and without approval.

It was reported in a prior issue of The Times Leader that police officers had approached the city leaders regarding Henry’s alleged treatment of personnel.

“On March 11, I released a draft copy of a report on discriminatory harassment to members of council,” Pugh said, adding that council members were cautioned by Law Director Richard Myser that this was a draft and not to be released.

“It appears that some members of council saw fit to disseminate and publicize the draft report, contrary to the Ohio Public Records statute,” he said.

Pugh released the final report to council members, adding that names have been redacted.

“That is another reason it should not have been released to the public,” he said.

Pugh handed a copy to council members Frank Sabatino, Mike Smith, Mark Bukmir, Jim Velas, Beth Oprisch, Perry Basile, Linda Jordan, and Council President Tim Porter, asking each if they had any role in releasing the information or had any knowledge of it.

“Somebody’s lying,” Pugh said. “I think I know who’s lying, and I think this is all political and it stinks to high heaven.”

Pugh added that Henry has his complete support.

“The city charter requires the mayor to conduct an investigation of any claim of discriminatory harassment. I selected a well-qualified independent third party to conduct an investigation and issue a report to me,” Pugh said, adding that he believed unflattering portrayals of the city and police chief have been circulating in the public as a result of this.

“Jeff Henry is a lifelong resident of St. Clairsville and well-respected in this community and a long-serving member of the police department, and our duly-appointed chief of police, and again, I support him totally,” he said, adding that he is working with Henry to address some of the issues raised in the report.

Pugh then addressed his suspicion toward Porter and Basile.

“If you want to do something politically, … let’s run on our backgrounds and experience instead of stooping to levels like this,” he said to Porter.

“I’m not involved in this,” Porter said.

“You and Mr. Basile are involved in this,” Pugh shot back.

“That’s outrageous,” Basile said.

Afterward, Myser said the final report would be available for viewing.

“It’s a public record,” he said. “Anybody could get a copy of the official record.”

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