Sisler being investigated for alleged theft

Springfield Police Department is probing Morgan County Humane Society executive director

By KATHY THOMPSON • Staff Writer • Zanesville Times Recorder • March 28, 2009

MCCONNELSVILLE - The executive director of the Morgan County Humane Society is being criminally investigated by the Springfield Police Department for theft, according to termination papers from the Clark County Humane Society.

Ed Sisler, who is still currently the executive director of the Humane Society in Morgan County, was placed on administrative leave Feb. 16 pending an investigation of alleged misconduct and then terminated from the Clark County position March 16.

Lillian Pennington, the humane society president in Morgan County, said the events in Clark County are in their preliminary stages and Sisler remains in his position in Morgan County. Pennington said she could not comment further.

Sisler could not be reached for comment and his attorney, Sanford Flack, did not return phone calls.

Sisler was hired as the director of the Clark County Humane Society in 1997.

The letter of termination from employment states an investigation found he unlawfully took valuable personal property from a home on Gruen Drive after the Springfield Police called him to remove 16 dogs in Springfield on Feb. 19.

Sisler was observed by three humane society employees picking up and examining china figurines, jewelry and other personal items in the home and also observed opening cabinets, drawers, closets and lock-boxes, according to the investigation.

Sisler was also informed in the letter that he attempted to hide numerous valuable Hummel figurines in the bottom of a box containing medications for the dogs and those were also placed in his car.

"You had no reason or authority to go through the personal belongings," the letter stated. "More importantly, you certainly had no right or authority to open boxes addressed to the address or remove any item of personal property from that home that did not directly relate to the care or control of the animals released to the Humane Society's care. This taking of property constitutes criminal theft and is an egregious abuse of your authority as a public servant and director of the Humane Society."

Springfield Police Chief Stephen Moody confirmed that his office is conducting a criminal investigation into Sisler's activity, but would not comment further.

The letter from the humane society goes on to say that they suspect Sisler of returning to the home on Gruen Drive after the homeowner died, since he had kept the key to the home.

In addition, the investigation revealed that Sisler may have used his authority as executive director in Clark County to misuse agency funds by directing unauthorized and inappropriate expenditures.

A life insurance policy with MetLife through Wallace and Turner was taken out in 1999 by Sisler in which he was supposed to contribute 50 percent and the society was to pay the other 50 percent. No evidence was found that the board approved the purchase of the policy or the provision of life insurance benefits, the letter stated.

Sisler's wife, Marlene, was also said to have been paid to clean cages at PetSmart for a flat fee of $550 per pay period, the letter states.

"We conducted a compensation study and determined Marlene only spends approximately 15 to 20 hours per pay-period discharging these duties which translates into a wage rate of $27.50 to $36.67 per hour," the letter states. "This wage rate is not commensurate with the wage rates of the Humane Society employees and it was not approved by the board."

Both the insurance policy and Marlene's wages are considered thefts, the letter states.

Sisler's personnel file, and items belonging to the humane society, are to be returned, the letter states, and he was directed to reimburse the agency for his share of the life insurance policy in the amount of $3,000 for the past two years and to repay the $100 taken from the PetSmart fund and the $100 adoption fee for a poodle Sisler purchased.

"Finally you are not to be on humane society premises for any reason without first obtaining the express approval of me, P.J. Miller, president," the letter states.

Sisler, who was also the Clark County dog warden since 2004, resigned on March 18 after sending a letter to the Clark County commissioners.

Nathan Kennedy, assistant county administrator in Clark County, said he was surprised to learn Sisler was on another board in Morgan County.