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January 11, 2014

Dog fight pits Clausi vs. Reiner

Commissioner against resigning sheriff’s bid to keep $10G K-9

By Francis Scarcella

The Daily Item

SUNBURY — Two commissioners usually in agreement on Northumberland County issues are divided on resigning Sheriff Chad Reiner’s declaration that once he leaves office, he is keeping the German shepherd that performs police work.

Reiner announced Wednesday that he would quit the post he has held since 2005 on Jan. 24.

County officials in 2010 accused Reiner of wrongdoing for his involvement in the breeding of Clark, whose ownership is now in contention. Reiner denied any misconduct in the resultant 13-pup litter of German shepherds, whose father is Clark.

Asked whether Reiner should keep the 8-year-old, drug-detecting German shepherd, Commissioner Vinny Clausi said “No.”

“That dog was paid for by taxpayer money and I will do everything I can to keep the dog in the department or will try to help get the dog to help police departments in the county,” Clausi said. “I got news for Mr. Reiner. He just isn’t walking out with the dog.”

Reiner said he already has.

“Clark was retired late Tuesday,” Reiner said Thursday. “I purchased him for a dollar from the county. The handler has the ability to purchase him. He (Clausi) didn’t want the dog before. And it is in my contract to take the dog.”

Clark came to the municipality when he was purchased by then-Northumberland County deputy sheriff Wade Lytle with $10,000 in donations.

Reiner fought Lytle over Clark in 2007, when Lytle left the sheriff’s department. Reiner at that time said the German shepherd must stay with the sheriff’s department because the dog was purchased with donations.

“Now that (Clark) is retired,” Lytle said Saturday, “I have a question for Reiner. When I tried to get that dog when I left, Reiner said the dog belonged to the people of Northumberland County. Now that (Reiner is leaving), he took the dog. Don’t you find that strange?”

Added Clausi: “Mr. Reiner always did what was best for him(self). For the last six years I’m in office, he never did what was best for taxpayers and the evidence shows the dog is an asset to Northumberland County and helps with finding drugs. He retired the dog right before he resigned? It was all set up.”

Commissioner Steve Bridy — who was critical of Reiner blaming his resignation on a 42.5 percent salary cut that would take effect in 2016, bringing his annual pay to $31,000 — said he doesn’t have a problem with the sheriff keeping Clark.

“I’m not spiteful,” he said. “The dog is used to Mr. Reiner. The dog probably loves him like a father. This is the norm for sheriffs who leave. I don’t have a problem with it.”

 

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