Wednesday, March 10, 2004
Routt County officials are asking former Chief Building Official Mark Marchus to return missing copies of at least two personnel files and have said that if they are not returned, a lawsuit could follow.
Marchus said he does not have the missing files and that the county's claims are "nothing more than harassment."
"They are out there reaching for straws to find something that they can nail me on, and there isn't anything," Marchus said.
The county terminated Marchus on Feb. 16 based on allegations that he did not create a good working environment at the department and violated county gift polices by taking stones that a contractor was throwing away, Marchus' attorney has said. Marchus has denied those allegations.
Routt County attorney John Merrill said that about two weeks ago, the county learned some duplicate personnel files for building department employees were missing and then asked Marchus, through his attorney Charles Feldmann, to return the files.
Marchus said he then realized he had taken nine files by mistake when he moved out of his office, and promptly gave them back to the county.
But Merrill said not all of the files were returned, and that after getting no additional response from Feldmann, he asked the Routt County Sheriff's Office to look into the matter.
He said "there is a likelihood" that Marchus has at least two files on old employees, and that if the files are not returned, the county will pursue whatever legal remedies they can to recover the files. If the sheriff's department finds no criminal charges, Merrill said, the county could bring a civil lawsuit asking for a court order that the files be returned.
"The files themselves are county property, and two, they contain confidential information," Merrill said. "I have not viewed this as a criminal matter. ... My concern is we want to know why they were taken, did they get copied, why we haven't gotten (all) of them back."
Feldmann said that a friend who helped Marchus move out of his county office unknowingly packed the files, but that they were returned as soon as the county asked about them. He also said Marchus has not made copies of the files.
"They're not of any value to him," Feldmann said. He said he spoke with the sheriff's office Wednesday, and that he did not think it was pursuing an investigation.
The sheriff and undersheriff could not be reached for comment.
"This is just a blatant attempt to retaliate against Mark and to harass him," Feldmann said.
As a department head, Marchus was allowed to access all personnel files. Merrill said copies should not have been made, but Marchus said the files were his supervisor files that were passed down from a previous chief building official.
Marchus and the county are going through a grievance process concerning Marchus' termination.
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