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Council to pick 2 for hearing

| Wednesday, April 3, 2002

Plum Council tonight is scheduled to appoint two residents to serve on the Plum Civil Service Commission to hear the appeal of fired police Chief Terry Focareta.

The interviews of applicants for the position are scheduled for 5:30 p.m., and the appointments are expected to follow at a 6 p.m. special meeting, Plum council President Clem Barbarino said Tuesday.

Focareta's appeal hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. Saturday. The hearing is open to the public.

Focareta, 53, was fired by council Jan. 24 after members charged him with conduct unbecoming a police officer, neglect of duty and immorality.

Maria Gingery, interim borough manager, said yesterday the borough received letters from four applicants. Additionally, council plans to interview the nine residents who applied for slots for the previous hearing date, which was March 23. That hearing was postponed at the request of Focareta's attorney, Patrick Sorek.

Council, at a special meeting March 19, postponed the appointments because of the delay in the hearing.

Barbarino said council did not plan to interview the first round of nine applicants because there wasn't sufficient time.

Residents criticized council for not identifying the applicants. Plum Solicitor Bruce Dice said the names become part of the public record when they are appointed to the commission.

The provisional appointments were prompted by the removal of two of the three commission members, David Majernik and Dennis Daugherty. The third member of the commission, Patricia Fitzgerald, will remain seated for the case.

Majernik is scheduled to be called as a witness in the Focareta case. Majernik was a member of the civil service commission last year at the time of the incident that officials said prompted Focareta's dismissal by council. Sorek raised a conflict-of-interest question about Daugherty, a former police officer who was under the chief's supervision.

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