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Mont Alto police chief dismissed

April 08, 1997

By LISA GRAYBEAL

Staff Writer, Waynesboro

MONT ALTO, Pa. - Mont Alto Council members removed Charles Mills from the police chief's job Monday night rather than accept a written resignation handed to them at the start of the meeting.

Acting on the advice of Chambersburg Attorney Thomas Finucane, who was hired last month as an independent attorney to investigate the one-man police department along with Mayor Frank Gilreath, Council members would not accept Mills' resignation in part because it included various conditions.

Council members and Gilreath also said the signature at the bottom of the letter could not be verified as Mills'.

The letter was given to Council President Tom Lowson five minutes before the start of the 7 p.m. meeting by Donald Whitmore, former mayor and council president of Mont Alto.

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Mills did not attend the meeting.

Reached at his home later, Mills said he has hired an attorney to pursue possible legal action against the borough.

"If they think it's over, they're full of mud," Mills said. "I'm going to pursue this to the end."

Mills said he wants the Mont Alto Council to justify their actions and "make it right."

"They had no right to go out and discredit me," he said.

Finucane said that Mills, as a part-time police officer, has no recourse to appeal the firing.

Among the conditions Mills specified in the letter was that he be provided with copies of complaints filed with the Mont Alto Council, a copy of the petition signed by residents, and a copy of the rules governing employees in the borough.

Specifically, the letter requests that the Council show Mills where he was in violation of the hours worked overtime, "when in fact, all hours exceeding 32 hours had been previously approved by the mayor and president of borough Council."

Borough Solicitor Jeff Evans said Mills is entitled to any public documents.

After a brief executive session, the Mont Alto Council voted unanimously to discharge Mills because he did not respond to administrative complaints filed with the borough on March 25 by Gilreath and mailed to Mills' home address and posted on his door.

Mills had five days to respond to the complaints or request a hearing.

The complaints alleged two counts of neglect of duty and six counts of disobedience of orders.

Under neglect of duty, the mayor alleged that Mills had been absent from work without leave and failed to maintain current firearms certification.

Mills said Monday that he has not worked since December because Gilreath never scheduled him.

Gilreath also charged Mills administratevly with failure to provide several police reports and with not completing inventory of the police department.

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