Tuesday, April 03, 2001

Lebanon fires ranking official

Alleged threat cited against city attorney

By Cindi Andrews
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LEBANON — A high-ranking city employee was fired last week in the wake of charges that he made threats against other officials here.

        Walter Biggs, superintendent of the telecommunications department, was notified by letter that he had been terminated, telecommunications Director Jim Baldwin said Monday. He had earned about $53,000 a year.

        Mr. Biggs, 54, of Lebanon had been on paid leave following a March 7 incident in which he was accused of threatening City Attorney Mark Yurick and others.

        That was the day a special prosecutor was appointed to investigate Mr. Biggs' wife, retired City Auditor Debbie Biggs, and two other top employees who took early-retirement buyouts from the city at the end of 1999. Mrs. Biggs is suing Lebanon for the return of her buyout money.

        Mr. Biggs declined Mon day to comment on his firing or whether he would fight it.

        His job was advertised Sunday in the Enquirer and in Dayton.

        He also faces a misdemeanor criminal charge of inducing panic. His attorney, William Kaufman, said a tentative plea bargain was reached in a pretrial conferance with prosecutors Monday afternoon.

        Mr. Baldwin expressed regret Monday “that we would lose someone so valuable to us for something that maybe should never have happened.”

        Still, he said, City Manager James Patrick had little choice given recent violence in public places.

        Mr. Patrick could not be reached for comment.


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