Katie Hillman – Staff Writer
CLARION, Pa.- Clarion Borough has terminated two employees after separate misconduct incidents over the last few months.
In early November, Mark Hall, former Clarion Borough secretary, treasurer and police chief, was suspended and later fired for allegedly taking uncontracted pay. Originally, Dave Walters, the mayor, only suspended Hall from his role as police chief, but after a council vote Hall was also suspended from other positions as well.
Council met again Nov. 15 to decide whether they supported the mayor’s decision. Both Hall and the borough had opportunities to bring in any witnesses and evidence they found fit. Prior to the meeting, the council had to authorize check signatures since Hall was unable to sign checks to pay the bills.
After the meeting upheld the mayor’s decision, the borough needed a new police chief. On Feb. 8, the borough officially hired William Peck IV to fill the position during its monthly meeting at the Clarion Free library. Peck served the department for 25 years and took over the role in November after the hearing. He was officially sworn in this month by Mayor Daniel Parker.
Janice Gabler, a 51-year-old borough meter enforcement officer, faced a criminal complaint on Jan. 19. The complaint followed Peck being alerted to the fact that Gabler allegedly cashed in a great value of change within one week at Walmart. After meeting with Walmart Loss Preventions and reviewing her transactions, Peck discovered that Gabler had cashed in $959.72 between Dec. 27 and Jan. 23.
On Jan. 29, Peck collected and counted the money from the Main Street meters. The following day, Gabler and another meter enforcement officer collected the money and took it to the bank. Upon investigation, Peck discovered the money turned in was short by $245.93. Gabler denied any involvement in the shortage of money and consented for a car search.
Finally, Gabler led Peck to her car where she removed a meter bag she claimed had become misplaced and she was too scared to bring it in. Gabler finally admitted to cashing in $245 from a meter bag in November. In a search of her car, Peck found three more meter bags under the seats and in Gabler’s purse. Gabler also admitted to cashing in $155.41 in January.
According to the complaint, the estimated total theft is $1,450.65. Gabler was arraigned with misdemeanors of theft by unlawful taking movable property and receiving stolen property. She was lodged in the Clarion County jail after failing to post $4,000 but was released the next day after providing a $400 security bail.
Students were surprised to find out the misconduct of the borough members. Upon hearing Hall’s actions, Kasey Lewis, a sophomore communications major, said “You can’t just lay under the radar like that for too long.”
Hannah Fallecker, a freshman communications major, is glad she does not have to use the parking meters. “I’d be really upset if that happened; that’s a lot of money,” said Fallecker.
Michael Sparks, a senior communications major, believes justice has been served. “They got what they deserved,” Sparks said. “You break laws, you pay the price.”