Leet Township Police Chief on paid administrative leave, department investigation underway

The Leet Township Police Department is under new management after township commissioners placed Chief Michael Molinaro on paid administrative leave.

The decision was made at a special meeting on Good Friday morning.

Attempts to join Molinaro on Friday were unsuccessful.

A third-party company has been investigating the department for about a month regarding “issues” with police actions, township attorney Stephen Chesney said Friday afternoon.

Other township officials and police officers questioned Chesney, who stressed that putting the chief on leave was not for disciplinary reasons.

“This is strictly to maintain the integrity of the investigation,” Chesney said.

Chesney declined to elaborate on the subject of the investigation or name the entity conducting the investigations.

The name of the investigating agency was to appear in the minutes of the March meeting. However, the latest minutes of the meeting posted on the township’s website are from January 17.

Stephen Panormios of the Ohio Township Police Department was unanimously named acting chief at the special meeting. It is unclear how long he can serve in this role. Chesney said compensation for Panormios is still being finalized.

He said residents should not expect a reduction in policing as a result of the change in leadership.

The investigation could be concluded by the next meeting of the Leet commissioners on May 9.

Chesney said township commissioners “will take whatever action is necessary as a result of the findings of the investigation.”

Molinaro was officially named chef on June 2.

The agreement was retroactive to March 9, 2021 with compensation of $83,000 per year, according to township meeting minutes.

Among the reasons commissioners gave last year for why Molinaro should be chief was that he “cleaned up the scum of Fair Oaks” and “saved many lives,” the township documents read.

Molinaro was a police captain before the promotion.

Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Tribune-Review. You can contact Michael at 412-871-2367, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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