Disciplinary action surfaces against acting CPS commissioner

Jul 14, 2016

What looked like a fairly routine confirmation of a new Erie County commissioner of Central Police Services changed Wednesday. Legal paper work surfaced showing the nominee had been punished in 1999 for sexually-blatant language directed to a female employee of the Lackawanna Police Department.

Credit WBFO's Mike Desmond

Lackawanna Police Chief James Michel is retiring from that post and is serving as interim CPS commissioner. His confirmation was slated to be voted on during Thursday's Erie County Legislature session.

Then, Legislature Majority Leader Joseph Lorigo produced internal paperwork signed by then-Police Chief Dennis O'Hara on the circumstances of charges brought against the nominee. Michel said it did happen.

"I was told that it did not come from a female employee, but it came from somebody else that was speaking on her behalf, one of the other officers," Michel said. "At that time, I had no idea what was really going on. I have the utmost respect for women. If I didn't, my wife wouldn't appreciate that."

Michel was fined 10 vacation days and O'Hara decided he and the other worker, who was not named, would be kept on separate schedules. Legislators said all this will be discussed in the Thursday morning legislators caucus, as they decide what to do.