Suspended chief still earning salary, while awaiting criminal charges
Posted July 11
ST. LOUIS, MO — He's facing 11 felony charges that could land him behind bars, but News 4 has learned that one local fire chief is still collecting your money.
Monarch Fire Chief Chuck Marsonette is getting paid hundreds of thousands without having to work a single hour. Investigative Reporter Lauren Trager discovered that the officials in charge made the decision to keep paying him behind closed doors.
"It's insane, it's just insane, I can't accept it," said St. Louis County resident Marlyn Flauter.
Like thousands of other people, she lives within the Monarch Fire Protection District in west St. Louis County.
She says she was shocked when she learned about the latest development involving her tax dollars.
"This is just an affront to the citizens as well as the men and women who serve the district, they deserve better than that, we deserve better than that," Flauter said.
Last August, Marsonette was arrested on criminal allegations that he improperly took money from two private companies, his previous employers.
At the time, the fire board suspended him without pay.
News 4 investigations, though, revealed that he earned his college degree on the taxpayer's dime and was getting other benefits.
Now we've learned that back in February, the board actually reinstated Marsonette's salary and gave him all of his back pay too.
The board's website says he's compensated close to $220,000 annually.
So, he's making the money and not even working. That's what has Flauter so mad.
'Why are we giving this man a paycheck? I'm sorry. He's not working. He doesn't deserve a paycheck," she said.
News 4 went right to board president Rick Gans to find out why, in closed sessions, they voted to pay him.
"The contract is very clear, he is to be paid under the circumstances, so we are paying him," Gans said.
Gans says their attorney later told them, based on the way Marsonette's contract was written, they had no choice.
Not doing so, Gans says, would have only cost the district more in legal fees.
"Was it a flawed contract?" Trager asked.
"We have learned, many times from things we thought were a mistake, that's part of life. This was one of those," Gans said.
A mistake Gans acknowledges that costs taxpayers.
"Is it frustrating to you that you're paying a guy a lot of money to not do anything?" Trager said.
"Yes, but we have no choice," Gans said.
Gans says they have tightened up their contracts moving forward.
"I don't like it, it's my neighbors' tax dollars and my relatives tax dollars and my own," Gans said.
But Flauter says the mistake never should have happened in the first place.
"If your contract has holes in it, then whose fault is that?" she asked.
She says if Marsonette is found guilty, she wants her money back.
"I just don't think he belongs in our district, much less being paid," she said.
An audit of the district found no misuse of any public funds.
Marsonette's attorney has declined News4 's repeated requests for an interview but says he maintains his innocence. ?
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