The Press Newspaper
Northwood EMS Fire Chief Phillip J. Wojcinski has been suspended from his job as a result of charges that he and his wife Shawna, furnished alcohol to minors, a first degree misdemeanor.
Their case is set for pre-trial in Perrysburg Municipal Court on January 28 at 9 a.m.
“Once the city heard about it, he was suspended,” said Northwood Mayor Mark Stoner.
Once the case is concluded, Fire Chief Tim Romstadt will make a recommendation to City Administrator Dennis Recker on whether Wojcinski, 44, should be reinstated, said Stoner.
“We’ll wait and see what the court decides,” said Stoner.
Wojcinski, and his attorney, Douglas L. Perras, could not be reached for comment.
On January 6, Northwood Captain Trent Schroeder assigned Sgt. Gary C. Suto to investigate a complaint of underage drinking that led to the charges against the Wojcinskis.
The incident occurred on October 31 last year at their house, according to police reports.
In a written police department statement made on January 8, Phil Wojcinski said Suto contacted him by phone and asked him to come to the station regarding a party involving underage drinking. He drove to the station at approximately 1:15 p.m. Suto informed him that he received a complaint about underage drinking at his house. He also stated that there was a photo on Wojcinkski’s Facebook page that showed a 19-year-old male holding a beer sitting on his couch.
Wojcinski states he knew the male, Jake Judy, but did not know he was only 19-years-old.
Judy is a friend of a co-worker, Brad Lewis, who is 23 or 24, stated Wojcinski. He further stated that he had assumed Judy was the same age as Lewis.
“I was not aware that he was not 21, nor did I ask,” stated Wojcinski.
He found out later when he, Lewis and Judy went to a restaurant in Oregon on January 7. Wojcinski and Lewis ordered drinks, but Judy ordered water, saying he was underage, stated Wojcinski.
Suto stated in a narrative that is included in the report that he spoke with Northwood City Law Director Brian Ballenger about the case.
“After reviewing the report, it was determined that both Shawna and Phillip Wojcinski should be charged through Perrysburg [Municipal] Court,” states Suto.
Stoner said there is precedence in suspending employees who are charged with breaking the law.
“We did this when we had trouble with another firefighter last year,” said Stoner, who declined to name the person. “He was suspended, then went to court. He had to finish all the court mandated requirements before he could even think about coming back.”
Although Stoner declined to name the firefighter, The Press obtained a police report on District Chief Steve Romstadt, the brother of Fire Chief Tim Romstadt, who was suspended last April after being charged with domestic violence and assault.
Shawna Wojcinski 36, was one of two women who had filed the complaint against Romstadt, claiming he had punched her in the face at a Reverse Raffle on April 11, 2010. The event helps raise funds for the fire department. Lisa K. Materni, of Perrysburg, was the other complainant. She alleged that Romstadt punched her in the throat. Romstadt, 40, and Materni, 36, had a child together, according to the police report.
Both women claimed that Romstadt was “highly intoxicated” at the time of the incident.
Materni claimed she was punched following a dispute with Romstadt, and Wojcinski claimed he had punched her in the face when she attempted to assist Materni. Romstadt had then left the scene.
Romstadt admitted to punching the women when he was taken into custody on April 11, according to a police report.
Romstadt stated that Phil Wojcinski sold a Reverse Raffle ticket to Materni. Romstadt stated that Materni was taking photos of his wife, Renee, at the event while she was dancing.
Romstadt, according to the report, stated that he had received a text message from Renee asking if he loved her, “to which he responded he did and the next message from Renee was asking him to smack her (Lisa).”
Romstadt, according to the report, stated that Materni shoved a chair at him “and he sent it back towards her, threw a drink at her, and then struck her. When Shawna Wojcinski came over, Steve admitted he hit her, too.”
Stoner later confirmed to The Press that Romstadt was suspended last year and has asked to be reinstated.
“That decision has not been made yet. He’s completed all the court mandated stuff, and that’s what we were waiting for,” said Stoner.
His brother, as chief, will make the recommendation to Recker on whether Steve should be reinstated, said Stoner.
Stoner did not think it was a conflict of interest for Chief Romstadt to make a recommendation on whether his brother should be reinstated. Chief Romstadt did not recuse himself when deciding who should be hired for the district chief position, said Stoner.
“Tim didn’t have a problem saying Steve should be in that position. He didn’t recuse himself then, saying `Wait, I can’t make this recommendation because he’s my brother,’” said Stoner. “I didn’t hear any objections from Tim then. So my opinion is, if you could give him that position, then you ought to be able to discipline. It’s part of the job.”
Wojcinski and Romstadt are paid hourly rates, according to Northwood Finance Director Toby Schroyer. Wojcinski, who makes $18 per hour, grossed $11,115.23 last year. Romstadt, who is paid $17.74 per hour, grossed $11,681.59 in 2009, and $4,107.71 for the first quarter of last year before he was suspended. In addition to hourly rates, a point system also determines pay.
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