Licking County News

West Licking fire chief

New charges to be brought against Fulmer

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The West Licking Joint Fire District board voted unanimously April 10 to hold a hearing for fire Chief David Fulmer at 7 p.m. May 8.

Fire board chairman Mark Van Buren said four new charges are related to another investigation of Fulmer, who was put on administrative leave immediately after getting his job back in February.

The four charges are related to information recovered from two laptop computers used by Fulmer and owned by the fire district. The investigation was completed by Douglas Duckett of the Duckett Law Firm in Cincinnati.

In his report, Duckett said, the fire board determined some files had been deleted from the computers.

The charges listed in his report are:

• Fulmer repeatedly violated the provisions of the fire district’s policy on technology, “through his deliberate misuse and reckless mismanagement of district-owned laptop computers and thereby committed misconduct in office, malfeasance, nonfeasance and gross neglect of duty.”

The charge includes specifications of Fulmer allowing his family to use the computer and for having inappropriate material downloaded to the computers, such as discriminatory information, and for using the computer to view sexually explicit websites.

• Fulmer used the laptops for private business ventures for profit, constituting misconduct and malfeasance.

• Fulmer’s mismanagement of the computer usage shows a gross neglect of duties, misfeasance and nonfeasance.

• Fulmer was dishonest in his interview with Duckett, which shows misconduct in office and malfeasance through insubordination.

ThisWeek could not reach David Comstock Jr., Fulmer’s attorney, for comment.

Paul Bittner of Ice Miller, who was listed in the charges as another lawyer representing Fulmer, said he could not comment on the hearing because he is not the lead attorney.

The fire board fired Fulmer Nov. 8, 2012, citing misconduct in office and malfeasance related to personal information on former employees from another municipality kept on his work computer.

Fulmer appealed the decision, saying his constitutional rights were violated, that the board did not follow proper procedures in firing him and the board did not prove he had done anything wrong.

Fulmer’s appeal was granted April 18, 2013, by Licking County Common Pleas Judge Thomas Marcelain, who determined the fire district board had fired Fulmer without proving him guilty of wrongdoing.

The fire board on April 23, 2013, consulted with attorney Douglas Holthus in executive session before agreeing to appeal the judge’s decision.

The Fifth Appellate District of the Licking County Court of Appeals on Jan. 9 sided with Fulmer, reaffirming the Licking County Common Pleas Court decision.

The fire district reinstated Fulmer Feb. 13 and begin paying him again but immediately put him on administrative leave. Board members said only that they needed to initiate and complete another investigation of Fulmer.

Fulmer earns $98,500 annually, according to the fire district.

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