Shawnee Hills police Chief Russell Baron was suspended for three days without pay by the Village Council on July 9.

Mayor Pat Monahan recommended the punishment for Baron's misuse of a car donated for undercover surveillance, drinking alcohol while using it and lying.

Because Baron is permitted to use two personal days in place of the suspensions, his effective discipline is one day, said Shirley Roskoski, fiscal officer for the Delaware County community.

The council's 4-2 vote July 9 resolved an investigation that began Feb. 6, when Baron was seen by an undercover agent with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation inside the Bogey Inn in Dublin drinking two beers and later that night at another bar having as many as four other drinks.

Baron was off duty at the time, but was driving a 2012 Ford Explorer donated by Nationwide Insurance to Shawnee Hills police to be used solely for undercover investigations into insurance fraud.

Council members Doug Gil and Renee Matney voted against the suspension.

"It is an outrage," said Gil, who had recommended Baron be fired. "This individual should be held accountable for his actions. We are sending the wrong message to everybody. He lied to all of us."

A council member for two years, he said he plans to resign to express his disappointment in the decision.

Council members Mary Gates, Dan Matthews, Jeff Stacy and Robert Thatcher voted for the three-day punishment.

Baron initially told Delaware County Sheriff's Deputy Charles Gannon that he had drunk one beer. After Gannon conducted field-sobriety tests, he concluded that Baron was impaired, at which point Baron admitted to having drunk 2 1/2 beers, according to the reports.

Baron twice refused to allow blood-alcohol tests at the Delaware County jail. Several hours after he was stopped, he tested at 0.04 percent, half the volume at which an Ohio motorist is presumed to be impaired.

"He was wrong in consuming alcohol while driving that car," Monahan has said. "But this is going to be on his record. And that is probably intimately worse to him than three days off."

Baron, who is paid about $50,000 annually, could not be reached to comment.

Baron is the second consecutive police chief in the small Delaware County village to face discipline.

Sean LeFever lost his job about two years ago after pleading guilty to one count of theft in office, stemming from an accusation that he improperly paid himself during special duty assignments.

dnarciso@dispatch.com

@DeanNarciso