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Published 3:43 am Friday, October 22, 2010

handcuffsThe Berrien County Prosecutor’s office stated the matter of Buchanan city employees committing multiple violations of city policies was still being investigated as of Thursday.

Whether or not criminal charges will be brought against terminated employees John Brown, Terry Pitzger or former superintendent of public works, Willie Brown, who resigned, is something residents will have to wait to find out.

Since news broke of Brown’s resignation and allegations of possible criminal activity that took place within the department, City Manager/Buchanan City Police Chief Bill Marx has reportedly entered into a contract with Brown that would compensate him for sick leave and vacation pay that was accrued.

“I know he’s getting his vacation pay and his sick days pay that he never used,” said Mayor Carla Cole.

She confirmed reports that Marx had estimated those benefits to amount to just under $13,300.

Cole said the board of commissioners for the city had not yet been forced to get involved in the situation.

“I’m not sure what part we will play in (the matter),” Cole said. “I’m going to assume that it’s all going to be done with the city manager and the city attorney. At this point in time, I’m not aware of anything we will have to do.”

The Michigan State Police have been investigating various allegations of violated policies including the professional ethics policy, rules of employee conduct, city theft policy and city vehicle equipment policy.

When he spoke to the Star about the terminations last week, Marx clarified he could only comment on those employees, as Brown had resigned from his position, which he held for more than 30 years.

Asked if she felt the situation had cast a negative image on the city, Cole said no.

“I don’t think it’s going to bother the citizens,” she said. “They’re glad that we’re moving forward.”