SCRANTON — Rob Mazzoni is one of three candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for Lackawanna County Sheriff, and now he’s on the receiving end of some tough questions about his past.
Duties of the office of sheriff include courthouse security, enforcing court orders, and issuing licenses to carry and sell firearms.
Mazzoni has been out of work since June 2010, when he was fired from his job as detective with the Lackawanna County District Attorney’s Office.
He is suing the county and DA Andrew Jarbola.
“I was wrongfully discharged there,” said Mazzoni who told us he couldn’t address the firing because of his lawsuit.
But his termination letter, obtained by Action 16 quotes Jarbola as accusing Mazzoni of “dereliction of duty, insubordination, overzealous and reckless conduct.”
In the letter Jarbola added, “Other law enforcement agencies will not work with you (Mazzoni) due to your lack of credibility. ”
The Lackawanna County district attorney`s office is not the only law enforcement agency that dismissed Mazzoni for apparent behavior problems. Before he got the job in Scranton, Mazzoni was fired from the Shelburne, Vermont Police Department in 1990.
A woman there accused him of using excessive force during a landlord tenant dispute.
An investigation by Vermont State Police found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing on Mazzoni`s part, but the complaints continued.
At a community meeting in Shelburne, 21 people presented a petition demanding the town fire Mazzoni.
“People felt they had been hurt or injured,” Shelburne resident Linda Lavalette told Burlington, Vermont television station WCAX-TV. “Or they had been treated in a manner that was definitely unbecoming of a policeman.”
After this meeting, Shelburne, Vermont`s town manager suspended Mazzoni.
“I believe my job performance up there was stellar. I did a very good job, I was a hard worker,” said Mazzoni now, defending his work as a patrolman in Shelburne.
Two months into his 1990 suspension, the Burlington Free Press newspaper reported then Chittenden County District Attorney William Sorrell called for a review of all criminal cases being investigated by Mazzoni.
A day later Mazzoni was fired in Shelburne, and the review never happened.
Vermont officials said the reason for firing Mazzoni was that he misled them about his work history in Clarks Summit, Scott Township, and Fell Township on his application in Vermont.
“When I filled out that application, it was human error,” explained Mazzoni. “I filled it out, I wasn`t exact on the dates, and not being exact on the dates, they looked at that for reason for termination.”
When Action 16 pointed out Mazzoni had been fired from his last two jobs, he responded, “I wasn`t fired from my last two jobs. I wasn`t fired from Lackawanna County I was, the word I want to use is ‘Illegally terminated’ from that position.”
The primary election is set for May 21.
Mazzoni is one of three Democrats running for Lackawanna County Sheriff.
There are also two Republicans on the ballot.
Wednesday afternoon, Mazzoni released a statement from his former Police Chief in Shelburne, Vermont. Chief Jim Warden wrote, “There was no merit to the complaint(s) brought against him.”
Warden, who was also Mazzoni’s chief of police in Clarks Summit in the late 1980’s added, “Given the chance I would hire Rob Mazzoni again as a police officer.”