Mono County lost its appeal against the Mono County Personnel Appeals Board over the termination of Jon Madrid as a Deputy Sheriff, in a decision reached on Friday, Feb. 21. The Board’s ruling vacated the Sheriff’s termination of Madrid, and ordered his reinstatement.
A year ago, State Arbitrator John Perone ruled against the Mono Sheriff’s Department in its bid to terminate 11-year department veteran Jon Madrid. Former Sheriff Rick Scholl had placed Madrid on administrative beginning in September of 2011, after Lieutenant Robert Weber discovered discrepancies in Madrid’s timecards.
According to the Decision Denying Writ of Mandate, the allegations underlying Madrid’s termination were that he knowingly failed to submit time-off slips for three shifts, resulting in an overpayment of $381.60 between February and March of 2011.
Because shifts can overlap, when one deputy picks up another deputy’s shift, there are often concurrent hours. A deputy doesn’t get to double-dip those hours, but must submit a time-off slip for the time not worked.
The Decision states that Madrid indicated he believed he had submitted the time-off slips, but that they may have gone missing in a “disorganized” inter-departmental mail system.
During the Personnel Appeals Board hearing last year, several deputies testified as to the “loose mail system.” Former Deputy Matthew Baumann (now with the Ventura Police Dept.) testified that he had submitted forms in proper order but that sometimes they were not received. He said that he made it a practice to keep copies of his submissions in case the forms did not make it to Finance.
Several deputies also testified that when they forgot to submit time-off slips in the past, Finance Officer Lynetta Fuerst would generally call to remind them to submit their forms. Madrid did not receive such a call.
No deputies that forgot to turn in their time-off cards, and had to be reminded to do so, were investigated by Internal Affairs, as Madrid was.
In spite of two prior infractions, the first an unauthorized personal use of a development cell phone, and the second reporting for duty by radio when dressed in civilian clothes, Madrid was evaluated favorably by the Sheriff’s Department from 2008-2010.
His 2008-2009 evaluation described Madrid as “self motivated … [with] an excellent attitude. He writes detailed and thorough reports that are rarely in need of corrections. Deputy Madrid is well known with in [sic] the communities that he serves, and is often given valuable information. His success with the citizens is based upon free and easy communication …”
Last year, the Arbitrator ultimately concluded that, “the [Sheriff’s] Department was unable to carry its burden to shoe, by a preponderance of the evidence, that Appellant [Madrid] intentionally failed to submit documentation during the shift swaps.”
The decision this past Friday affirmed that Arbitrator Perone had made an informed decision based upon substantial evidence.
In fact, the Decision states, “The timing, conduct, and evidence of Department practices giving other deputies reminders of missing ‘time off’ slips were susceptible of support for the Respondent’s [Mono County Personnel Appeals Board] conclusion that the charges against Deputy Madrid were at best—unsupported, and at worst—a deliberate scheme to terminate him for inappropriate reasons.”
The Decision notes that the initial Internal Affairs investigation of Madrid came just after Madrid filed a harassment complaint against the Undersheriff, Lt. David O’Hara, based on instances where O’Hara threatened Madrid with termination on multiple occasions.
The Personnel Appeals Board upheld the Arbitrator’s original ruling to award Madrid reinstatement, as well as authorizing back pay and benefits lost on account of an improper discharge. He was also awarded attorney’s fees.