By Scott Halasz
XENIA — A Greene County employee and Sugarcreek Township Trustee, who had been on administrative leave since June 8 for alleged insubordination and theft/misuse of time and faced a disciplinary hearing, resigned last week.
Carolyn Destefani, who was elected to the trustees in November and served as the social service specialist of the Bellbrook-Sugarcreek Family Resource Center, was accused by county officials of working unapproved hours, working on her trustees campaign while on county time and misrepresenting the county regarding the resource center. County officials referred the case to the county prosecutor for which Destefani retained legal counsel.
A July 20 disciplinary hearing was scheduled, for which attorney Enrique G. Rivera-Cerezo requested a continuance. Destefani tendered her resignation on Aug. 2, 2016, citing the need for full-time work and the fact that her position would no longer be available due to changes within the resource center.
“… Mrs. Destefani recently submitted her voluntary resignation to Greene County,” Rivera-Cerezo said in an email to Greene County News. “Prior to her resignation, she was informed that her position would undergo significant changes. During this period, my client and her superiors had a professional disagreement regarding the methods and services to best help Greene County’s underprivileged individuals’ achieve access to food assistance. My Client enjoyed serving as the Bellbrook-Sugarcreek Family Resource Center specialist for Greene County and was appreciative for the opportunity to touch and help the lives of hundreds of low-income families. She is currently looking forward to her future career and additional opportunities to serve her community.”
A letter acknowledging receipt of the resignation was sent by Human Services Director Rachel Livengood. In the letter, Livengood noted that Destefani’s former position was not being eliminated and the vacancy would be filled, and said the pending disciplinary action was closed. County Administrator Brandon Huddleson said since Destefani resigned, there was no reason to pursue criminal charges.
The county previously announced it was transitioning the resource center from a county-run agency to one run by Bellbrook and Sugarcreek Township.
According to County Administrator Brandon Huddleson, the center is grant-funded and needs to focus on prevention and independence.
“It became clear that the focus on basic needs assistance was not establishing prevention,” Huddleson said.
At a public meeting between Huddleson, Director of Family and Children First Renee Lammers, the Bellbrook Sugarcreek Ministerial Association and an advisory group June 7, Destefani allegedly presented incorrect material regarding the resource center and the county’s ability and willingness to fund it, according to Huddleson.
A document Destefani passed out at the meeting indicated the “intent was to conceive, arrange and plan this transition without any involvement of knowledge from the community, to ‘blind-side’ Bellbrook and Sugarcreek with this change.”
“I was blindsided,” Huddleson said. “The numbers she presented told a different story. We looked at the numbers she supplied. She left out some important information.”
The next day, a letter was sent to Huddleson from Destefani recalculating the numbers she presented, but they were still not the same as what the county showed, which she admitted.
In a letter dated July 13 in her personnel file, Destefani was told “You undermined the decisions of your employer and misrepresented information in the document you presented. This behavior calls into question your ability to separate your personal interests from that of your responsibility as an employee.”
The county then reviewed Destefani’s paper and electronic files and computer and discovered Destefani allegedly used the county computer to prepare/edit documents associated with her political campaign. Destefani’s disciplinary file contains several entries with campaign material time-stamped showing those materials were accessed while on county time. Destefani had also previously been disciplined for unapproved schedule adjustments in April, according to documents in her personnel file.
In a memo to Huddleson and Livengood dated June 13, 2016, Lammers said she was “appalled and dismayed at the amount of evidence of misuse of county time and equipment, as well as evidence that Ms. Destefani has been presenting the County in a less-than-positive manner for a long time.”
Neither she nor Rivera-Cerezo were able to comment about those allegations as of press time.