by Guest » 09/08/08 11:17:18
AKRON, OH – An Akron police detective faces three months without pay and a new assignment for writing a book that his superiors see as critical of the department's investigation of the Jeff Zack murder. Vince Felber, a 16-year veteran, was served the disciplinary notice Thursday. His union leader said an appeal is imminent. The 90-day unpaid suspension follows a four-month internal investigation into Felber's work on the book Perfect Beauty, which focused on the Zack murder in 2001 and the arrests of John Zaffino and socialite Cynthia George. Felber was one of the lead detectives on the case. The internal investigation alleges that Felber violated several departmental rules, including ridiculing or criticizing an order or supervisor, divulging confidential information and participating in conduct that brings the department into disrepute. Paul Hlynsky, the department's Fraternal Order of Police president, said a grievance will be filed immediately, setting up a hearing before the mayor in four to six weeks. The grievance would stay the suspension, but not Felber's removal from the detective bureau. Felber stands to lose about $18,000 in pay — more money than he earned writing the book, Hlynsky said. Felber's new temporary work assignment has not been determined. "He's one of the department's best detectives, and he should be out there solving crimes," Hlynsky said. Police Chief Michael Matulavich, who issued the decision, could not be reached for comment Thursday. Perfect Beauty was authored by Felber and New York writer Keith Elliot Greenberg and released last spring by St. Martin's Press. The book chronicles the murder of Zack, a Stow businessman, and the subsequent arrests of his lover, George, and her other lover, Zaffino. Felber gives readers a candid look into the investigation and its ups and downs. Along the way, he offers criticisms of the department, himself and some supervisors. Zaffino and George were convicted. However, an appeals court overturned George's conviction for lack of evidence, setting her free after she had served about a year in prison. Zaffino is serving a life sentence. This week, George and her husband, Tangier restaurant owner Ed George, agreed to pay Zack's estate $650,000 to settle a wrongful-death lawsuit. "This was an important case and I felt the public had a right to know what happened and why it happened," Felber said, declining further comment. Hlynsky said Felber's suspension might evolve into a First Amendment battle. He said Felber told his superiors he was writing the book, and he did so on his own time. In no instance, Hlynsky said, did Felber reveal any information that is not part of a public record. "It's just scandalous," he said. "Vince basically wrote a book about a closed case, which he has a right to do."
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