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Monarch board reinstates suspended chief

By: Jim Erickson

The Monarch Fire Protection District board has reinstated its former fire chief days after various felony charges against him were dropped in St. Louis Circuit Court.

After a lengthy March 13 closed-door session, directors voted 3-0 to hire Wayne “Chuck” Marsonette as deputy chief of operations, Rick Gans, board president, reported.

Cary Spiegel remains the chief, a position he assumed Jan. 1 after serving as acting chief since Aug. 2016 when Marsonette was arrested and the board suspended him.

Marsonette’s three-year contract as chief expired at the end of 2017 and the board opted not to renew it, appointing Spiegel to the post instead.

Before the charges were dismissed, Marsonette was accused of fraudulent use of a business credit card from Reliant Care Management Co., a former employer. He later was charged with tampering with an airplane or boat, forgery and additional misuses of a credit card.

According to the county prosecutor’s office, Reliant asked that the charges be dropped because it no longer wanted the case to be criminally prosecuted. The company and The Big Blessing, LLC, which also employed Marsonette, reportedly planned to pursue their complaints in a civil lawsuit.

Marsonette has denied all the charges, and, according to Gans, told the board he is not a plaintiff or defendant in any current civil cases.

As deputy chief of operations, Marsonette will have the position formerly held by Les Crews, who moved up to acting assistant chief when Marsonette was suspended. He became the regular assistant chief at the same time Spiegel was named chief.

The deputy chief position has been vacant since the 2016 changes.

Gans said Marsonette has accepted the offer and will start work as deputy chief as soon as the required pre-employment protocols, which include a physical exam, drug test and background check, are completed.

The board president added that Marsonette’s annual salary will be equal to that of other current deputy chiefs. According to Monarch’s transparency portal, the pay of two other deputy chiefs ranged from about $121,000 to $122,700 during the 12 months that ended Aug. 31, 2017.

Asked what factors led the board to its decision, Gans stated, “First of all, we had an opening that existed. Secondly, I said … if he was found innocent at trial or if the charges were dropped, then my vote would be to bring him back.

“The man was arrested, jailed and put through significant strife and, in the end, the charges were dropped,” the board president continued. “While I don’t know why it happened, it is scary to think that can happen to you, to me or anyone who, in the end, may have done nothing to deserve it.”

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