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Former Mahoning County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Challenges Retaliatory Termination for Whistleblowing

Veteran assistant prosecutor Martin Desmond blew the whistle to Prosecuting Attorney Gains about misconduct within the prosecutor's office―and Gains then suspended and fired Desmond.

CLEVELAND, OHIO - Today, Martin Desmond, formerly an assistant prosecuting attorney for Mahoning County, filed a notice of appeal with the State Personnel Board of Review, challenging unlawful, retaliatory actions taken against him by his former employer, Mahoning County Prosecuting Attorney Paul Gains. As the notice explains, Desmond is appealing his suspension and ultimate termination following his whistleblower reporting of certain misconduct within the prosecutor's office.

Desmond served Mahoning County for 13 years as an assistant prosecuting attorney, with a total of 18 years of law-enforcement experience, working tirelessly to make his community a safer place to live and work. He prosecuted over 1,000 criminals, including murderers, gang members, drug dealers, robbers, burglars, and sex offenders. Known for his diligence and integrity, Desmond had, since 2009, been lead prosecutor for the Mahoning Valley Law Enforcement Task Force and Mahoning Valley Violent Crimes Task Force. He had received awards from the FBI, the Ohio Attorney General, and the Mahoning Valley Chiefs of Police Association. He was also selected to the National District Attorneys Association Marijuana Policy Working Group.

The notice of appeal explains that, in late January 2017, consistent with Ohio's public-employment whistleblower statute, R.C. 124.341, Desmond reported to his boss, Mahoning County Prosecuting Attorney Paul Gains, prosecutor's office misconduct violating state or federal law, and misused public resources. The notice further states that Desmond also believed the conduct was criminal.

But shortly thereafter, in March 2017, Desmond received a notice from Gains placing Desmond on administrative leave pending a pre-disciplinary hearing. Languishing on administrative leave for 14 days, on April 5, 2017, Desmond then received a letter from Gains terminating Desmond's career as a prosecutor.

Desmond's appeal alleges that Gains's actions were retaliatory and unlawful. For example, R.C. 124.341, mentioned above, prohibits taking any disciplinary action―including suspension and removal―against an employee in the classified or unclassified civil service for making the type of whistleblower report Desmond sent to Gains.

Desmond's lead counsel Subodh Chandra said, "While Martin Desmond has worked tirelessly to protect the people of Mahoning County, Prosecutor Gains's retaliatory and unlawful actions disserve the community, as does his besmirching of Mr. Desmond's good name. The State Personnel Board of Review appeal is a step to ensure that truth and justice prevail. Much more will be revealed in this process."

Subodh Chandra and Sandhya Gupta of The Chandra Law Firm LLC, a Cleveland firm, www.ChandraLaw.com, represent Desmond.

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