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MATTER RONALD PRIEST. RONALD PRIEST (11/15/79)

COMMONWEALTH COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA


decided: November 15, 1979.

IN THE MATTER OF RONALD PRIEST. RONALD PRIEST, APPELLANT

Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County in case of In the Matter of Ronald Priest, No. 1315 December Term, 1977.

COUNSEL

Kenneth E. Aaron, with him Davidson, Aaron & Tumini, for appellant.

Barry J. Grossman, Assistant City Solicitor, with him James M. Penny, Jr., Deputy City Solicitor, and Sheldon L. Albert, City Solicitor, for appellee.

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

Author: Mencer

[ 47 Pa. Commw. Page 321]

Ronald Priest (appellant) was employed as a fireman by the City of Philadelphia for approximately three and one-half years prior to June 9, 1977, when he was placed under arrest as the result of a narcotics raid at a house where he and three other persons were playing cards. Although all criminal charges filed against appellant were withdrawn, he was dismissed from his fireman's position because his arrest, his being charged with possession and intent to deliver a controlled substance and with conspiracy, and his smoking marijuana rendered him "unfit to be a Philadelphia Firefighter."

Appellant appealed his dismissal to the Civil Service Commission of the City of Philadelphia, which denied his appeal, and thereafter he appealed to the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, which also denied his appeal and upheld his dismissal. This appeal followed and we affirm.

In exercising our scope of review here, we must affirm unless we find that the adjudication is in violation of the constitutional rights of the appellant or is not in accordance with law or that the provisions of the Local Agency Law*fn1 have been violated in the proceedings before the Civil Service Commission, or that any necessary finding of fact is not supported by substantial evidence. Fabio v. Civil Service Commission, 30 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 203, 373 A.2d 751 (1977).

[ 47 Pa. Commw. Page 322]

Off-duty conduct may properly be considered in a charge of conduct unbecoming a fireman. Corle v. City of Oil City, 45 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 559, 405 A.2d 1104 (1979). Appellant's presence in a house (1) with three men who admitted smoking marijuana and who stated that appellant was also smoking marijuana,*fn2 (2) with two plastic bags containing marijuana on the table where the men were playing cards, and (3) with a one-pound bag of marijuana found after a search was conducted of the premises, combined with appellant's attempt to force the front door closed when the investigating officer identified himself at the entrance to the building, are actions and circumstances which could bring dishonor upon his profession and lead to a weakening of the public confidence and trust of which he was a repository.*fn3

[ 47 Pa. Commw. Page 323]

Thus, appellant's conduct amounted to just cause for his dismissal.*fn4 Richter v. Civil Service Commission, 35 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 310, 387 A.2d 131 (1978). Evidence is substantial and supports an administrative decision when, from an examination of the entire record and inferences therefrom, a reasonable man might have reached the same decision. Leroi v. Civil Service Commission, 34 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 190, 382 A.2d 1260 (1978). Our examination of the record in the instant case does not lead us to the conclusion that a reasonable man, when confronted with the evidence here, would not reach a decision affirming appellant's dismissal.

Consequently, since a review of the record discloses the charges against appellant were established by substantial evidence and his dismissal was in accordance with law, we must affirm. See Baker Case, 409 Pa. 143, 185 A.2d 521 (1962).

[ 47 Pa. Commw. Page 324]

Order affirmed.

Order

And Now, this 15th day of November, 1979, the order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County that the appeal of Ronald Priest from the decision of the Civil Service Commission of the City of Philadelphia, upholding his dismissal from the Fire Department of the City of Philadelphia, be denied is hereby affirmed.

Disposition

Affirmed.


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