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Council eyes another appeal

March 2, 2011

Brian Andrekovich

PUNXSUTAWNEY — Punxsutawney Borough Council continues to discuss the possibility of appealing Judge John Foradora’s ruling regarding the reinstatement of terminated Punxsutawney Borough Police Officer Brian Andrekovich.

Last week in a written opinion, Foradora denied council’s appeal of the Punxsutawney Civil Service Commission’s order to rehire Andrekovich.

According to Brian Gabriel, of Campbell, Durrant, Beatty, Palombo & Miller, P.C., Pittsburgh, the law firm representing the borough in its appeal, no decision has been made whether or not to appeal Foradora’s opinion.

In its July 2010 report, the Civil Service Commission ordered that Andrekovich be reinstated as an officer after council fired him stemming from the Aug. 15, 2009, death of Stephen Obbish, 48, in the back of a borough police cruiser.

Aug. 9, 2010, Punxsutawney Borough Council voted 5-1 to appeal the commission’s order.

Foradora said the court concurred with the commission’s report, which said there was insufficient evidence to support the council’s reasoning behind firing Andrekovich.

“The court, having reviewed the entire record, including the video surveillance DVD, the hearing transcripts and the exhibits produced at that hearing, agrees that the evidence was insufficient to sustain the charges identified by council in its statement of charges and as further defined in his termination letter,” Foradora wrote, and that “the court agrees that council terminated Andrekovich when there was not sufficient evidence to sustain the charges against him.

“Andrekovich had no forewarning of that result, though, which leaves the court to wonder how council could reach its conclusion when Andrekovich’s decisions that day were not proscribed by law, by necessary implication given a police officer’s role, or by applicable written policies.

“The court concurs with the commission’s report, which, unlike borough council’s statement of charges and termination letter, was well supported by the evidence,” he wrote.

Council President Susan Glessner said it has only a short period of time to make its decision on whether or not to appeal Foradora’s decision to a higher court, and it will do so soon.

There has been no comment from Andrekovich or his attorney regarding Foradora’s decision.

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