The Pleasant Township fire chief has been let go after 16 years on the job.
Former fire chief Jeff Mathias is accused of assault and racial slurs.
The Pleasant Township board of trustees voted to terminate Mathias after a hearing and investigation.
"I can't believe this. I just can't believe it," said former Pleasant Township trustee Janice Siefert.
Siefert says she worked closely with Mathias during her eight year tenure.
"His whole livelihood has just been flushed down the toilet. He worked and dedicated himself for 16 years to Pleasant Township," said Siefert.
There were witness reports to two incidents. The first incident happened on December 12th during lunch. Witnesses say a firefighter pulled his chair right next to Mathias. The chief pushed him away. Some witnesses say the two were joking. Mathias says he felt crowded.
All accounts say the two went back and forth a couple times. The chief says he 'put him against the wall', then let him go. The other man says the chief pushed him multiple times in the chest, grabbed his shirt collar and put his forearm to his neck. One other witness backs this up, but other accounts called it a 'shoving match' and a 'pushing contest'.
The chief was suspended for four weeks. Then came another allegation.
On May 30th, three firefighters say during a discussion about an African American firefighter, the chief said "I don't have a problem with black people. I think everyone should own one".
The chief says this was not his exact statement and it was taken out of context. He says he was having a separate conversation regarding the president, the economy and slavery.
Siefert says she knows a different man.
"Jeff's professionalism and expertise made it all that much easier for the trustees to get things done," said Siefert.
Siefert says the board completely reorganized the department with the help of Mathias.
When she heard the allegations from another firefighter, she was shocked and thinks there's more to the story.
"I just feel there's an ulterior motive and that's what's driving this," said Siefert.
Originally, an outside individual was picked to conduct the investigation. According to township board meeting minutes, that person removed himself. he board picked the man who is now acting chief to conduct it.
10TV News spoke with all three trustees. None of them would comment on this. Mathias has filed an appeal through the courts.
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