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JOSEPH DEMARINIS v. HAZLETON HOUSING AUTHORITY (04/17/79)

decided: April 17, 1979.

JOSEPH DEMARINIS, PETITIONER
v.
HAZLETON HOUSING AUTHORITY, RESPONDENT



Appeal from the Order of the State Civil Service Commission in case of Joseph DeMarinis v. Hazleton Housing Authority, No. 2265.

COUNSEL

Theodore R. Laputka, Jr., with him Theodore R. Laputka, for petitioner.

Pasco L. Schiavo, for respondent.

Judges Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer and Rogers, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Wilkinson, Jr.

Author: Wilkinson

[ 42 Pa. Commw. Page 61]

Petitioner has filed an appeal to this Court from an adjudication and order of the State Civil Service Commission (Commission) sustaining a decision of the Housing Authority of the City of Hazleton (Authority) removing him for cause pursuant to Section 807(a) of the Civil Service Act, Act of August 5, 1941, P.L. 752, as amended, 71 P.S. ยง 741.807(a). We affirm.

By letter dated July 21, 1977, the Authority dismissed petitioner, alleging seven separate grounds for cause which may be briefly summarized as negligence and incompetence in maintaining financial records, unethical conduct in dealing with contractors, lack of capability and insubordination. On appeal, the Commission concluded the Authority had established all seven grounds for dismissal and further that the Authority did not discriminate against petitioner for political reasons.

The principal question presented for review is whether there was sufficient evidence to support the

[ 42 Pa. Commw. Page 62]

Commission's conclusion that petitioner was dismissed for cause. Although petitioner has argued there is insufficient evidence to support each of the seven grounds, we will deal only with the evidence concerning maintenance of the Authority's financial records since evidence on this issue alone would establish sufficient grounds for dismissal. See Harp v. Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, 28 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 318, 368 A.2d 846 (1977). In particular, petitioner contends that the Authority failed to prove that he was responsible for the maintenance of the Authority's financial records.

That the Authority's financial records had not been properly maintained is not in dispute and was fully documented in a report by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (hereafter HUD) which concluded that it (HUD) was unable to perform a routine audit of the Authority's books "because of the incomplete and inaccurate condition of the accounting records, and the grossly inaccurate financial statements." The chairman of the Authority's Board of Directors testified before the Commission that the HUD report, received by the Board one week before petitioner's dismissal, was conducted at the instigation of the Board of Directors after receiving a report from a private accountant hired to assist petitioner in the preparation of financial reports to HUD.

The evidence before the Commission on the issue of accountability for financial recordkeeping within the Authority's governing framework included the testimony of the chairman, which was corroborated by the vice chairman, the Authority's bookkeeper, and petitioner, as well as the bylaws of the Authority and a personnel policy duly adopted by the Authority containing the executive director's job description. The ...


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