TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) — State Supreme Court Justice Mark Grisanti has ordered that Town of Tonawanda police officer Howard Scholl be reinstated with back pay.
Grisanti ruled, Tonawanda officials did not have the authority to suspend Officer Scholl without pay. Instead, Gristanti said the law requires the town to use the police union’s collective bargaining agreement.
Legal counsel for the Town of Tonawanda’s police union, Kenmore attorney Paul Weiss said town officials got ahead of themselves when they suspended Officer Scholl without pay following a two-car accident back in January.
Weiss said, police discipline has always been subject to the Police Club’s collective bargaining agreement.
“Prior to thIs, the town, the police department, has always proceeded in the disciplinary avenue under the collective bargaining agreement.”
When Tonawanda police responded to the two-car accident on January 19, the initial report indicated Scholl’s wife, Aimee, was driving their SUV, but a second accident report listed Officer Scholl, who was off-duty at the time, as the driver.
Town officials accused Scholl of dishonesty, they drew up the suspension papers and served them on Scholl in February–bypassing the union contract.
“Any time they are dealing with anything with the police,” said Weiss, “it has always been under the collective bargaining agreement. Why they did that? You will have to ask them that question.”
Tonawanda Town Supervisor Joe Emminger said town officials are shocked, “I can tell you that our attorneys were very surprised by the decision, and I, in turn, would be surprised as well by it.”
Following the accident the Erie County District Attorney charged Scholl and his wife with misdemeanor counts of falsifying business records. Scholl faces an additional count of insurance fraud.
Emminger said, once the decision is filed with the court, the town will appeal, “We are still confident in our case against Officer Scholl and we will be appealing the judge’s decision when the judge signs the order.”
Grisanti’s ruling calls for Scholl’s reinstatement to Tonawanda’s police force, but attorneys say, once the town files an appeal, they get an automatic stay of the decision.
That means Scholl would not get any of his back pay, benefits, or his job until there is a final decision, which could takes months, if not, longer.