POINT PLEASANT — A suspended deputy with the Mason County Sheriff’s Department has been reinstated to his position.
According to the unapproved minutes of last week’s Civil Service Commission meeting, Robert E. Fruth, II, was unanimously reinstated to his position with the Mason County Sheriff’s Department.
Fruth received a two-count indictment by a grand jury earlier this year. He was accused of damaging a county vehicle and recklessly driving the county vehicle off of the highway. For this, he was originally charged with committing the felony offense of destruction of property. Count two charged him with the misdemeanor offense of reckless driving. Fruth originally pleaded not guilty and the case was set to go to trial. However, four months ago, a plea agreement was reached.
By agreeing to a plea of no contest to failure to maintain control, the agreement said the state would dismiss the case. This plea agreement was referenced in the Civil Service Commission’s minutes for the meeting, saying, “Sgt. Fruth entered no contest of failure to control. That plea agreement was part of a package deal wherin all criminal allegations were to be disposed of.”
The motion goes on to read: “Based on above, the commission intends to reinstate Sgt. Fruth and award back pay to June 5, 2012, being the date criminal charges were dismissed.”
Other sources close to the case say it appears Fruth didn’t receive his statutory right to notice of a pre-disciplinary hearing after his initial suspension — this is said to have also factored into the commission’s vote. This hearing is guaranteed by West Virginia state law and the notice of the hearing would’ve been the responsibility of the acting sheriff at the time of Fruth’s suspension — former Sheriff David L. Anthony, II.
A similar situation occurred earlier this year when Judge Thomas C. Evans, III, ruled in former Deputy Robert Glenn’s favor by reversing his termination because his dismissal was done without providing Glenn his statutory right to notice of a pre-disciplinary hearing. In this case, Evans ruled the notice of the hearing also fell to Anthony at the time.
In Glenn’s case, a former resource officer for Hannan High School, the Mason County Commission complied with a court order approving to pay Glenn his back pay as well as court costs associated with his wrongful termination court case. The county commission oversees the budget for the sheriff’s department and therefore bears the financial responsibility.
The county commission does not rule on cases heard by the Civil Service Commission — these are two separate entities. Currently, the Civil Service Commission consists of Greg Roush, RF Stein and Bob Powers.
Again, the motion to reinstate Fruth is based upon the unapproved minutes of the recent Civil Service Commission meeting and are subject to change. Repeated calls to Fruth’s attorney, Michael Eachus, to discuss when his client hopes to return to duty were not returned.