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Fired W.Va. officer to return to active duty

Matthew Starsick was fired by police chief Rick Panico, who claimed Starsick failed to respond to allegations of misconduct

By Conor Griffith
The Dominion Post

WESTOVER, W.Va. — Westover Police Officer Matthew Starsick will be back on the force after the Westover Civil Service Commission ordered his rank restored.

David Grunau, Starsick's attorney, said he expects his client to return to work "any day now," adding that his gun and badge were returned to him shortly after the commission reinstated him.

Starsick was fired on Oct. 22 by-then police chief Rick Panico who claimed Starsick failed to respond to allegations of misconduct. Starsick later filed a wrongful termination lawsuit and appealed to the Westover Civil Service Commission, which ordered he be returned to duty Dec. 27.

"On the allegation sheet provided by Chief Panico, most allegations against Sgt. Starsick were centered on Councilman William Wilson, who eventually resigned from the council," the written order from the commission said. "The commission received no formal statements from Councilman Wilson to back up the allegations. In the Dec. 17 hearing, Wilson denied under oath any of the allegations presented by Chief Panico ever occurred."

The order  obtained by The Dominion Post  stated that Starsick was never provided with a pre-disciplinary hearing prior to his termination. The commission ruled that Starsick was to be reinstated with former rank, back pay and seniority from the time of his termination. Starsick's legal fees, amounting to $4,900, were approved by the commission and submitted to the City of Westover for payment to Grunau, according to the order.

Westover City Clerk Sandie Weis said Starsick was back on the payroll but on administrative leave until he gets his certification back. She added the city had paid him for lost time.

Copyright 2014 The Dominion Post

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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