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The Oldham County Fiscal Court has officially fired an animal control officer for admitting to official misconduct, but is locked into a battle with a state agency over money due to the former employee.
Fiscal Court officially fired Animal Control officer Elmer "Jim" Nichter on Aug. 20. Nichter was arrested on May 15 for forgery, official misconduct and theft relating to a missing dog case. Earlier this month, Nichter pled guilty in court to official misconduct. This admission prompted Judge-Executive David Voegele to let him go.
"He was charged with taking money from animal control," Voegele said. "And the county is not going to employ an individual guilty of that."
The charges stem from an incident on May 8, when a woman came to pick up her lost dog and paid a $25 fee in cash. According to court documents, Nichter took the money, then created a phony claim form, forged the woman's signature and marked the fee as unpaid.
The firing comes with Nichter being owed more than $100,000 from Fiscal Court according to the Kentucky Labor Cabinet.
Animal Control and the Fiscal Court have been caught in a legal issue with the cabinet since March. The cabinet sent a notice to Fiscal Court claiming animal control employees had not been paid for time spent on-call. The total amount owed to five employees was over $300,000.
The on-call status meant the employees had to be available to respond to an emergency and were restricted from doing certain activities like going to a movie or going out to dinner. The Fiscal Court and County Attorney John Carter disputed the claim and did not pay the money or the resulting fine.
Voegele said Wednesday the court still adamantly denies any wrongdoing but have offered the Labor Cabinet a settlement.
"We completely deny doing anything inappropriate," Voegele said. "But we have offered to settle rather than have this drag on."
Voegele said the legal process for working a case like this out can be extremely lengthy and is something the court would rather not go through. Gerald Adkins, with the division of employment standards at the Labor Cabinet, said he is aware of the dispute. As the program manager over the western half of Kentucky, Adkins said he has been in contact with Fiscal Court regarding the on-call pay.
Adkins said due to confidentiality in an ongoing investigation he could not comment beyond that. He did not say whether the cabinet has received the settlement offer, how much it was or when they might respond.
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