Thursday, January 16, 2003

Report clears West Chester administrator

By Jennifer Edwards
The Cincinnati Enquirer


WEST CHESTER TWP. - A township investigation released Wednesday concludes that this Butler County community's long-time administrator has not abused his power, as his ex-wife recently alleged.

Dave Gully's ex-wife, Joan Mishler, sparked the investigation in November by sending a letter to the trustees that accused her former husband of misappropriating township funds, equipment and employees for his personal gain.

The couple divorced in April 2002 and both have since remarried.

Police officials gave trustees a report late Tuesday in a closed-door session that their investigation found Mr. Gully didn't violate any policies or laws.

"I will not disrespect the reputation of my ex-wife by publicly commenting on her behavior," said Mr. Gully, administrator since 1990. "The investigation speaks for itself."

The 14 complaints included Mr. Gully washing the vehicle of Beth Thomas, whom he married in November, on the township's account at a West Chester car wash. "There was never anything on the township account that wasn't a township vehicle," said West Chester Police Chief John Bruce. Mrs. Mishler also accused Mr. Gully of inappropriately having Ms. Thomas accompany him on township business to New York City last year.

Mr. Gully also was accused of improperly directing township employees to:

Take down balloons at a birthday party at a restaurant for Ms. Thomas

Erect a tent at her business

Remove a mailbox from the road in front of his house that he knocked over with his township vehicle in icy conditions.

Investigators found no improprieties.

The firefighters volunteered to go to the restaurant after Mr. Gully called to see if they had a hook he could use to take down the balloons.

Mr. Gully and other township employees volunteered to erect the tent after hours, and the township's maintenance department routinely removes mailboxes damaged by township vehicles, according to township records.

The mailbox was not replaced.

Also, Ms. Thomas did go to New York with Mr. Gully but paid her own way, according to Pat Williams, the township treasurer.

Mrs. Mishler declined to comment Wednesday other than to say: "I have the highest respect for the trustees. However, I do have concerns about townships agencies investigating themselves."

Trustees defended having the township police department, which Mr. Gully oversees, investigate.

Trustees Catherine Stoker and Mr. Alvarez said the trustees did so based on advice from their attorney and Butler County Prosecutor Robin Piper.


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