ELYRIA — The chief probation officer with Lorain County Adult Probation has been fired due to “deeply flawed” judgment and decision making “in multiple situations.”
Beth Heldreth’s employment with the Lorain County Common Pleas Court was terminated at 4 p.m. Tuesday, according to a letter addressed to Heldreth from Judge Chris Cook. Cook was appointed by Judge Raymond Ewers to oversee an investigation into allegations of workplace misconduct.
Heldreth was hired as the chief probation officer in September 2012. She was placed on paid administrative leave June 22 while the investigation took place.
“A number of situations came to our attention regarding her operation of the Probation Department that we felt required investigation,” Cook said. “As the investigation unfolded, we confirmed some of those concerns and rejected others.”
There were allegedly six incidents listed in Heldreth’s personnel file that led to her termination.
The first alleged incident occurred in March 2017 when she allegedly struck a subordinate employee on the way back to a hotel after a social gathering of work staff.
It also was alleged that Heldreth interfered with a workplace investigation by ordering the deletion of relevant evidence after she questioned why an employee had recorded her actions at a conference. She also ordered the employee to delete the video he had of her behavior that evening.
Heldreth also was alleged to have “failed to properly supervise, oversee and maintain operations in the Probation Department.” She allegedly instructed staff they were not to communicate with the court and created unauthorized forms indicating the staff could not contact the court, mandating employees sign the form and telling individuals they were not to discuss probation issues with judges. She also allegedly told the employees they were to refer all inquiries to her.
It also was alleged that she ordered the cancellation or curtailment of field team work and home visits and other field offender contact activities — such as employment checks and other activity that was logged.
Heldreth also allegedly disciplined an employee for talking to judges without her approval. She then later allegedly allowed the public record of that discipline to be destroyed by removing the document from the employee’s personnel file and giving it to the employee to tear it up.
“It is alleged that Ms. Heldreth then did observe the record being torn up … failed to intervene to stop the destruction of the public record, and also completed a personnel evaluation for the employee that indicated she had not been disciplined during the prior year,” the order for her termination said.
The order also alleges that Heldreth was “less than truthful” in her responses during the investigation.
“Unfortunately, recent events have called your ability to remain in your current role into question,” Cook said in a letter addressed to Heldreth. “ ... The court determined your judgment and decision making in multiple situations was deeply flawed. We determined you displayed a lack of candor, both in your workplace conduct, as well as within this inquiry. Further, we were troubled by your lack of ownership or acknowledgment of your misconduct.”
Cook said there is no criminal investigation into Heldreth’s alleged actions.
“We tried to conduct a comprehensive and fair investigation into the matter,” Cook said. “We decided that it was best at this time to go in a different direction with her employment. We wish her the best going forward.”