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ZEBER APPEAL. (12/30/59)

December 30, 1959

ZEBER APPEAL.


Appeal, No. 210, March T., 1959, from order of County Court of Allegheny County, No. A2079 of 1958, in re appeal of William G. Zeber. Order affirmed. Proceedings on appeal from order of Civil Service Commission dismissing fireman. Adjudication filed dismissing appeal and order entered, opinion by GUFFEY, J. Fireman appealed.

COUNSEL

Norman Landy, with him Wolken & Landy, for appellant.

David Stahl, City Solicitor, with him Joseph M. Tague, Assistant City Solicitor, for City of Pittsburgh, appellee.

Before Jones, C.j., Bell, Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Bok and Mcbride, JJ.

Author: Cohen

[ 398 Pa. Page 37]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE COHEN

This is an appeal under section 6 of the Act of June 27, 1939, P.L. 1207, 53 P.S. § 23496, from an order of the County Court of Allegheny County affirming the action of the Civil Service Commission of the City of Pittsburgh dismissing appellant from his employment in the Pittsburgh Fire Department.

On September 16, 1954, appellant was arrested in the apartment of a sixteen-year-old girl, alleged to be mentally retarded. The police charged Zeber with rape, adultery, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, and, upon information received concerning an earlier incident, with indecent assault upon another child but ten years old. The following day Zeber was suspended from duty pending a fire trial board hearing. On September 28, 1954, the Trial Board of the Bureau of Fire met to hear charges of unbecoming personal conduct against Zeber which constitutes justifiable grounds for disciplinary action against a fireman under 53 P.S. § 23495.*fn1 Appellant Zeber appeared and was represented by counsel.

[ 398 Pa. Page 38]

At the hearing three policemen testified that they had been called by neighbors to the apartment house where appellant was found. The police ascertained that the girl's mother was at her place of employment. When the mother returned shortly thereafter, the police accompanied the mother and the girl to a physician who certified to the officers that the girl had had relations with a man within four or five hours of the medical examination. The arresting officers also testified that they had observed lipstick upon the appellant's mouth when they found him in the girl's bedroom, and that members of the crowd which had congregated outside the building had commented about this. Although at the time of the arrest both appellant and the girl denied any improprieties, the girl later told the physician that she had had intercourse with the appellant in the apartment. There was other testimony by the officers to the effect that a neighbor who had summoned the police had asserted to them that she had seen appellant make improper advances to a ten-year-old child on the street earlier that day.

At the conclusion of the hearing, the Trial Board decided to continue appellant's suspension "indefinitely or until such time as the pending criminal case is disposed of in the Courts; meanwhile the Trial Board of the Bureau of Fire reserves the right to reconvene at a future date and make final disposition." What the board in effect did was to hear evidence and make findings. For the time being they postponed their ultimate disposition of the case, perhaps with the thought that the court's disposition of the criminal charges unfavorably to appellant would make their job a perfunctory one.

These findings were subsequently approved by the Mayor of the City of Pittsburgh. On October 21, 1954, the Director of the Department of Public Safety, by letter, ...


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