First hearing set for Marchus case | SteamboatToday.com

First hearing set for Marchus case

Susan Cunningham

The first hearing for a civil case filed by Routt County against ex-Chief Building Official Mark Marchus was postponed Friday and moved to April 28.

The case was filed March 23 in District Court in an effort to get Marchus to talk on the record about missing duplicates of personnel files, Routt County Attorney John Merrill said.

“What we’re trying to do is find out what happened to the files,” Merrill said.

Marchus repeatedly has denied having the missing files, saying he already returned the only files he had.

“I don’t have them, I never have removed those files,” Marchus said.

The postponed hearing originally was scheduled for next Wednesday.

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The county terminated Marchus on Feb. 16 in response to allegations that he did not create a good working environment at the department and violated county gift polices by taking stones a contractor was throwing away. Marchus has denied those allegations.

When Marchus left his office at the end of February, three duplicate files were left in his office, Merrill said. The remaining files could not be found, so the county asked Marchus about them. Marchus said he had taken nine files mistakenly, then returned them to the county.

The county learned two still were missing and asked for those, Merrill said. Marchus said he did not have the two files, Merrill said, but would not give a sworn statement, so the county filed a civil case.

The county considered criminal charges but decided to go the civil route because officials did not think they had enough of a case to make it a criminal matter and because they “weren’t interested in doing that,” Merrill said.

“Just saying, ‘I don’t have them now,’ just doesn’t satisfy the county,” Merrill said.

“We kind of were forced into this to show to those employees that we’re actually trying to protect their personal information.”

Marchus said the county’s actions were “harassment” and “intimidation.”

“We’ve told them numerous times that I don’t have the files,” Marchus said. “I’ve said publicly I don’t have the files, and that should be good enough.”

Hearings in the grievance process to decide whether Routt County Manager Tom Sullivan’s decision to fire Marchus was appropriate were supposed to take place this past week but were put on hold because of complications in choosing people for the grievance board.

The county got to choose two people, and Marchus got to choose one, but Marchus’ choice — Routt County Undersheriff Dan Taylor — opted out of participating because of the time commitment and other factors.

Marchus’ attorney, Charles Feldmann, said he plans to file a case against the county early next week to try to get a fair and impartial grievance hearing and so the “county complies with their regulations.”

— To reach Susan Bacon, call 871-4203

or e-mail sbacon@steamboatpilot.com