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Home » , » The Report: Cassandra Ethington Had 'Almost Unquestioned Authority'

The Report: Cassandra Ethington Had 'Almost Unquestioned Authority'

Written By Editor on 10/24/13 | 10/24/13

Many of the issues revolving around the Report come right back to the Schoharie County Personnel Office. The lawfirm Fitzmaurice and Walsh describe their initial disbelief that "the Personnel Officer could possibly possess the unfettered authority that was being attributed to her." As the author states "an overwhelming number of the general and specific complaints were related to the Personnel Officer."

Sheriff Tony Desmond said that he was present for a conference call in the middle of 2011 with the Undersheriff, an officer, the Sheriff's secretary, and Cassandra Ethington. During the call a disagreement between the officer and Mrs. Ethington began. Mrs. Ethington began "berat[ing]" the officer to the point that the conference call stopped. Desmond told the Personnel Director not to speak that way to an officer-- in response she hung up on him.

The officer that was on the conference call was concerned with an investigation on abuse of an inmate by a deputy. The deputy was suspended pending a full investigation after the case was brought to the Board. The documents were presented to Mrs. Ethington via email. She claimed that no one even interviewed the deputy and that she never saw the documentation.  When the secretary showed Mrs. Ethington a copy of the email she screamed over the phone, "Who the fuck do you think you are? You are fucking nobody. Don't raise your voice to me." The officer said that he never raised his voice and even stepped back from the phone. This version was confirmed by the Secretary and Undersheriff Ron Stevens.

The Sheriff also met with the budget directors Alicia Terry and Paul Brady about proposed layoffs. The Sheriff's proposed cuts did not include actual employees, but instead contractors and services. Immediately after he heard that there were 33 positions cut from the Sheriff's Department. The Sheriff and his secretary attended a meeting with Mrs. Ethington. Ethington handed the Secretary a copy of all of the layoffs that she had requested for the Sheriff's Department. Part of the document outlined demotions that included cutting all corporals back to corrections officers and reducing some dispatchers to part-time from full-time. Desmond had no input on the process and was "shocked" by the process.

When discussing the layoff prospects, Mrs. Ethington physically took the list from the Secretary and said "Screw you, the game's over. Get the fuck out of my office." The Secretary affirmed this incident's occurrence. She stated that the layoff list was in fact a jail schedule to operate the jail with fewer employees than mandated by the State. The Secretary said that Mrs. Ethington made the schedule to show how effectively "she could operate the jail." A copy of the schedule was included in the Report.

This version of events was entirely denied by the Personnel Director. She instead said that she was explaining the bump and retreat rights of each deputy. Instead, during the meeting the Sheriff and Secretary were "laughing, texting, and not paying attention" to her as she discussed possible layoffs. She said that her patience had worn thin already from being attacked in social media and did in fact tell them to "Get the fuck out of my office." She also said that the Secretary stole the layoff list from her-- and that this was the source of how it reached County employees.

Meanwhile another employee in the Sheriff's Department stated that he had been good friends with Deputy Ethington but had a falling out in 2006. When his wife applied for a job in Delaware County. Deputy Ethington allegedly called the company to make "false claims" about her. He also produced a recording of a call Ethington made that was aimed at an employee of the perspective company. The same recording made it to YouTube. Since then, he has feared for his job due to Mrs. Ethington's position.

Another deputy said that he had been eating in Middleburgh in late 2011 when he was approached by Mrs. Ethington and another employee from the Personnel Department. The deputy asked Mrs. Ethington how she was to which she responded, "You better watch your fucking job." After a moment he asked her what she meant to which she said, "You're about to be laid off." He had not heard of the layoff list at the time.

In a separate incident, Mrs. Ethington allegedly "forced" the disclosure of confidential information and used it to have another employee berate them. Mrs. Ethington reportedly threatened the job of an employee unless they divulged the confidential information. In this case  the former employee was investigating a report of potential workplace violence. He was asked to report to the Personnel Department where she demanded the identity of one of the people involved. When the Officer denied the request she later called him and screamed at him. She claimed that it was a matter of law enforcement importance.

Later, when he feared asbestos or mold in the County building he called  to have the substance investigated. It was not asbestos but Mrs. Ethington yelled, screaming, "Who do you think you are, I'm a department head, you're nobody." He was then thrown out of the office.

After the flood the employee was tasked with cleaning up damage at the County building. Mrs. Ethington started to tell him what to do. When he responded that he was tasked with the cleanup and to leave him alone. He complained to Harold Vroman saying that "She's interfering with stuff." She stopped showing up at the site but soon after saw him after a flood meeting. She said to him, "You son of a bitch, you want to run the fuckin' Board and rat on me. I can't wait until you are out of here." She had tears in her eyes.

One of the largest sections was that revolving around the Personnel Office.

She was praised by several Supervisors for her job performance.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Ethington claims to be the victim of multiple forms of harassment, including sexual harassment and intimidation. She believed that there was an overall atmosphere of intimidation at the County level.

She claims that the County Attorney Michael West and Bill Cherry conspired against her. She pointed to the YouTube video where Mr. Cherry called for her firing at a Board meeting. Meanwhile Mr. West launched investigations into her Department, which she claimed were meant to harass her. She said that this happened while she was on vacation and that her hard drive was taken and copied.

She said that letters and emails were also sent to harass herself and her husband. One email was vouched for by Earl van Wormer, who said that the information was true. Ethington asked West to put a halt to Mr. van Wormer's actions. Instead, it got worse, leading to the attempted lawsuit her husband spoke of. She also alleged that the employees at the Health Department refused to follow her orders.

One employee that was laid off, said Mrs. Ethington, lied about her to remove her from her position.

The Supervisors were reportedly not happy with Mrs. Ethington.

"Your reign of terror is over." said Schoharie Supervisor Gene Milone.

Phil Skowfoe said he did not like her and when that happens "he chews on it like a dog with a bone."

Meanwhile another employee stated that she heard Mrs. Ethington scream at an employee that did not raise their voice themself.

On top of this, Mrs. Ethington has been accused of working with several employees at the Department of Public Works to change the DPW Commissioner's job qualifications to fit an ally.

Ethington allegedly placed a DPW employee on the layoff list after complaining that Ethington employed an ally for political reasons. Meanwhile another employee asked for a promotion in the Department and was granted. When he heard there were potential layoffs, Mrs. Ethington told him, "Quite frankly, I've been getting a lot of complaints about you, you are not doing your job very well." Immediately previous his job responsibilities were stripped of him and right after the conversation he was added to the layoff list. This led to his resignation.

In another case Ethington yelled at another employee after moving furniture and equipment after a move. She allegedly shouted "Who do you think you are? Coming down here are telling me what you can or can't take with you."

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Norie61 said...

This person should have been fired a long time ago. The numerous complaints and unprofessional behavior alone would have justified it. As far as her accusations regarding Bill Cherry and Mike West, this too needs to be addressed, not so much for the County Attorney, but certainly Mr.Cherry. In my opinion Mr. Cherry also is a source of many problems and he over steps his authority as well. I want to see the rest of the report!

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