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Ex-chief to seek damages from Monroeville officials

| Thursday, Sept. 12, 2013, 9:53 p.m.

An attorney representing former Monroeville Police Chief Doug Cole said Thursday he will seek additional damages against some municipal leaders following Cole's termination.

Cole filed a lawsuit in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court in February against the municipality, a faction of council and the municipal manager after his demotion from chief to sergeant, claiming his contract and the Pennsylvania Sunshine Act were violated.

“Our intention at this point is to take their bank accounts, cars, houses, do whatever is necessary to punish them the way they've punished Doug Cole,” said attorney Michael Colarusso.

Municipal Manager Lynette McKinney fired Cole on Wednesday with a letter that explained he will receive his final paycheck on Sept. 27. McKinney said on Thursday that she cannot comment on personnel matters.

Under the home rule charter, the municipal manager has the authority to discipline department heads.

Colarusso claims that limiting Cole to a sergeant's pension is a retaliatory measure for the lawsuit Cole filed in February. McKinney demoted Cole to sergeant without cause that month.

She suspended him in August and placed him on administrative leave in September. The suspension and dismissal are being appealed, Colarusso said.

Councilman Steve Duncan — a member of the three-person minority on what has become a split, seven-member council — said he has been kept in the dark about recent actions.

“There was absolutely no explanation given to me as a councilman as to why he was first of all given time off, and now fired,” Duncan said.

A federal investigation was begun by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services when now-police Chief Steve Pascarella filed a complaint with the department in August 2012, citing concerns that federal health care privacy laws may have been violated under Cole's watch.

Kyle Lawson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8755, or klawson@tribweb.com.

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