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July 3, 2013

Jail employee gone, another suspended

BRENTWOOD — One county jail employee is out of a job and another remains suspended with pay, but Rockingham County officials are releasing few details.

More than a month after the sheriff's office launched its probe of the two unidentified employees, Sheriff Michael Downing would not say why they were under investigation.

Downing said he did not know when further details would be released, referring all questions to jail superintendent Stephen Church.

"It's an ongoing investigation," he said.

But county commissioners Thomas Tombarello of Sandown and Kevin Coyle of Londonderry confirmed the two county jail employees were suspended without pay. Coyle said one of the two is no longer working for the county, but he would not elaborate.

"All I can say is one person is no longer employed by the county," he said.

Coyle would not say whether the employee was dismissed or resigned. That employee was previously suspended with pay, Tombarello said.

He said the commissioners have the authority to terminate any employee suspended for more than 10 days. Otherwise, the authority lies in the jail superintendent's hands.

The two commissioners said the issue was discussed in nonpublic session and they could not provide further information because it is a personnel issue.

"There is an ongoing internal and external investigation," Coyle said.

Church wasn't working yesterday, but assistant jail superintendent John Blomeke did say at least one of two employees remains suspended. He referred all other questions to the superintendent.

Tombarello has said the sheriff’s office will determine if the matter should be investigated by the Rockingham County attorney’s office for possible indictment.

County Attorney James Reams has said his office has not been asked to intervene. He could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Commission Chairwoman Katherin Pratt also could not be reached yesterday for comment.

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