B  U  F  F  A  L  O      N  E  W  S       buffalonews.com


Toll taker’s hearing put off

By Janice Habuda
August 12, 2009, 7:02 AM

Disciplinary action won’t be decided until next month, at the earliest, for a Grand Island toll collector who sent threatening e-mails to an anti-toll activist.

David L. Zelonis, who also faces a criminal charge of aggravated harassment in connection with e-mails sent to Rus Thompson, was scheduled for a disciplinary hearing Tuesday before the State Thruway Authority.

Instead, the Teamsters, of which Zelonis is a member, and the Thruway Authority agreed to submit a stipulation of facts to the hearing officer, with closing briefs due Sept. 18.

Then, the hearing officer has approximately 30 days to render his findings and recommendations.

“The hearing portion of the process has been canceled, as it is rendered moot by the parties agreeing to all the facts,” said Dick Bennett of the Thruway Authority’s Office of Media Relations & Public Affairs. “The facts of the case are not in dispute . . . Mr. Zelonis admitted to sending the [e-mails] to Mr. Thompson.”

Zelonis, 53, of Grand Island, was accused of targeting Thompson, also an Island resident, with e-mails during the past two years. It’s alleged that Zelonis sent them because he thought Thompson’s ongoing push to have the Grand Island toll barriers removed would cost him his job.

Zelonis remains on the job, having served a 30-day unpaid suspension in late spring, and is scheduled to appear next Wednesday in Grand Island Town Court regarding the criminal charge.