LOCKPORT – Niagara County Refuse Disposal District Director Richard P. Pope has been placed on paid administrative leave, as County Manager Jeffrey M. Glatz and County Attorney Claude A. Joerg conduct an investigation of allegations they declined to reveal Monday.
Pope went on leave Thursday. Several county legislators said they haven’t been told why Pope, who has headed the Refuse District for 19 years, is in trouble.
“I think there’s a reason we’re not being told,” said Majority Leader Richard E. Updegrove, R-Lockport. “I think the legislators ultimately may be asked to make a determination.”
Legislator Paul B. Wojtaszek, R-North Tonawanda, said there is a possibility that Pope may be the subject of an Article 75 hearing, which is a trial-like procedure that must be used before public employees who have civil service protection can be fired.
“We were told that it would be best if we were not given the details, because we might be part of the administrative tribunal,” Wojtaszek said.
Joerg said Pope was placed on paid leave that will last until the investigation is concluded. Pope earns $67,681 a year and is not a member of a union.
Two officials, who asked not to be identified because they were not authorized to speak about the matter, said the probe began after Glatz received an anonymous letter making accusations against Pope.
Glatz denied that but confirmed that Pope was questioned last week with his attorney present.
Legislator John Syracuse, R-Newfane, the Refuse District chairman, said the situation didn’t pertain to the run-in Glatz and Pope had at a meeting Oct. 22, when the Refuse District board heard about options for closing the district’s only active landfill.
Glatz recommended the shutdown as early as June 26, according to a memo obtained by The Buffalo News. Pope opposes the move, saying the construction and demolition landfill operates at a substantial profit.