Town of Tonawanda stepping up efforts to fire police officer
The Town of Tonawanda has taken the next step in its efforts to fire a police officer accused of falsely claiming he wasn’t the driver in a January vehicle accident.
The Town Board on Monday voted to hire a hearing officer who will listen to arguments from the town and from Officer Howard Scholl III, who is trying to keep his job, and help decide whether the town has grounds to terminate him.
Scholl remains on unpaid leave, but he is not the only member of the department who has been punished for their actions on the night of Jan. 19. The three responding officers, who have not been identified, were suspended without pay but have since returned to duty, Supervisor Joseph Emminger said.
The captain that night also faced discipline, though his status is unclear. Lt. Thomas Haynes, a police spokesman, declined comment except to say Scholl is the only officer currently on unpaid leave.
Scholl was leaving a party for the town SWAT team on the night of Jan. 19 at Sinatra’s Restaurant on Kenmore Avenue when his SUV rolled through a stop sign and struck a vehicle driving on Englewood Avenue that had the right of way.
An accident report notes icy conditions may have been a factor in the crash. Both occupants of the other vehicle were taken to a hospital for treatment.
The first accident report filed shortly after the crash stated Scholl’s wife, Aimee, was driving. A corrected accident report states Howard Scholl was driving.
The Town Board asked the District Attorney’s Office to investigate the crash and its aftermath, and that review continues.
Police Chief Jerome C. Uschold III previously said an internal investigation revealed violations of departmental regulations and procedural errors did occur that night but he is confident the investigating officers didn’t commit a crime.
Uschold and the town last month moved to fire Scholl.
He is challenging his termination and the town this week hired Paul G. Joyce of the Colucci Gallaher law firm as a hearing officer.
Joyce will hold a hearing on the disciplinary charges lodged against Scholl and, according to the Town Board resolution, in the case Scholl is found guilty Joyce will forward his findings to the Town Board for review and action.
Paul D. Weiss, attorney for the town police union, is representing Scholl with criminal attorney Barry N. Covert. “