Clinton County to pay former warden $225,000

LOCK HAVEN — “Clinton County’s contribution is $225,000.”

Those were the words of Clinton County solicitor Larry Coploff as he announced that a settlement had been reached in the civil suit filed against the county by former Clinton County Correctional Facility Warden Thomas V. Duran.

The announcement was made at Thursday’s county commissioners meeting.

Coploff said that the agreement had already been signed by Duran and the board unanimously approved the motion listed on the agenda as “a Global settlement and general release agreement to resolve an employment matter.”

Coploff said he and the rest of the county employees were not able to provide any more detail than the amount, as the settlement included a non-disclosure agreement.

Local resident Mike Remick asked questions about the suit during the public comment period at the very beginning of the meeting, before the motion on the settlement was acted upon, wondering aloud what the settlement might be, how much attorneys would be paid and if anyone would be held accountable.

“I doubt it. You will do what you always do. Where there’s a negative impact, take it from the taxed community’s pockets … which are already overburdened,” Remick said.

Smeltz told Remick the matter was listed under personnel and would be brought up later in the meeting. Remick then asked if he would be able to ask questions at that point and Smeltz replied, “If I feel questions are warranted on certain items, I will allow them.”

And, as expected, Remick had questions for the solicitor after he announced the settlement amount.

“The public deserves complete disclosure… Duran’s attorney fees, the county’s attorney fees… is this part of the $225,000?” Remick said.

Coploff replied that he was not at liberty to speak to anything but the amount of the settlement.”

Duran, who was warden from 1993 to 1997 and from 2000 to 2012, was suspended with pay Oct. 24, 2012, and his contract was not renewed when it expired that Nov. 5.

Duran contended his termination stemmed from a discriminatory animus toward his disabilities while the county claims he was fired for poor management of the prison.

The suit alleged retaliation in violation of the Family Medical Leave Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act along with age discrimination.

Duran had multiple medical issues and surgeries that caused him at times to work from home through the use remote cameras and the installation of broadband Internet, both of which were paid by the county.

He also was permitted to use a golf cart on prison grounds and a mobile scooter inside.

The following are among the issues the county in a court document states were factors in Duran’s termination:

• Failed to complete as requested looking into possible over billing for prison medical services by Clinton Medical Associates and a doctor performing surgical procedures on inmates that was not part of his contract.

• Did not adequately negotiate the daily rate to house state Department of Corrections’ prisoners.

• Submitted a proposed budget for 2013 of $3.2 million that was an increase from $1.9 million.

• When asked for suggestions on what costs could be trimmed, there was no response.

The decision to terminate Duran was made when the prison board questioned him about the budget and he shrugged his shoulders and said “it’s up to you guys,” the filing states.


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