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Courts and Crime

Akron rec center investigation leads to discipline, but no charges, yet
Forced resignations, retirement, demotion and firing and a police investigation continues

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M.L. Schultze
Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic announced the investigation this summer.
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In The Region:

Four employees of the Akron Recreation Department have been disciplined – ranging from firing to demotion -- in the investigation of cash missing from the city’s rec centers. Meanwhile, a criminal investigation continues. WKSU’s M.L. Schultze has more.

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The city says Nicki Taylor taught Zumba classes at the rec center run by her mother, Kim Huskey. The problem is, for more than a year, people taking those classes were writing their checks to Taylor, not the city. In all, it totaled $6,000, according to the restitution Huskey has agreed to pay.

She’s also resigned, and Taylor was fired.

Separately, the city says another recreation supervisor, Joanne Brieding, wrote a rec-center check to pay her mortgage, has agreed to pay $800 restitution and is retiring.

While a police investigation continues into potential thefts by others, Akron’s deputy mayor for labor relations, Randy Briggs, says this result was right for the city.

 “The first goal is to recoup any taxpayer monies that may have been missing or taken. And the second goal was make sure the people who did that would no longer be employed by the city of Akron, wouldn’t have an opportunity to do that again.”

“Given the … amounts that were taken and the hoops you have to jump through with everybody’s legal rights and collective bargaining rights you have to jump through with everybody’s legal rights and collective bargaining rights, I believe it was a good deal for the city and saved the taxpayers money.”

Briggs says the resolution is especially just when contrasted with the case of the Cuyahoga Falls Library officer, Theresa Karm, who got a suspended sentence and restitution order this week for stealing nearly $370,000.

As part of the fallout in the Akron case, Recreation Bureau Manager, Greg Kalail, has accepted a demotion and suspension.

And Briggs says dozens of city employees are being retrained – not because they took money for personal use, but because they did not abide by city rules on keeping petty cash around. 

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