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Letters to the O.P.B.A.

I would like to publicly thank our OPBA attorney Joe Hegedus for all of his hard work with our department over the past year.  Joe helped negotiate a fair contract with our city while we were under fiscal emergency.  Joe also represented one of our officers in a grievance over injury leave.  Even though the arbitrator did not side in our favor, Joe made a very professional and (in my opinion) better case for the OPBA.  It seems that the OPBA attorney job is a very thankless job but I would like to thank Joe on behalf of our entire union.

Detective Eric Bohach
Galion Police Department
I am writing to thank the OPBA for the beautiful plaque, badge and monetary gift I received in honor of my retirement from the Wood County Sheriff’s office.  I worked several times on issues at the Sheriff’s Office with the professionals at OPBA and it was a pleasure to see how efficiently they took care of situations when they were called upon.  Thank you for all you do.

Mike Ackley, Retired Detective Sergeant
Wood County Sheriff’s Office

I would like to commend the OPBA for their use of Dominic Vitantonio.  I was represented by him and was found Not Guilty in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court.  His attention to detail and absolute professionalism were key in my defense.

Jimmy Alferink
Cleveland Division of Corrections.

July 7, 2009

Re:  Letter of Appreciation

Dear Terry Gallagher:

I wanted to take this opportunity to express my deepest gratitude to the O.P.B.A. yourself, Kevin Powers, and Mike Maloney for diligently representing my son Christopher Minek who was involved in an unfortunate incident (Taser Case) in Newburgh Heights.

The Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office conducted an investigation into the incident after the alleged victim filed a complaint with the Sheriff’s office.  The County charged my son with a Felonious Assault.  The original charge was eventually dismissed due to the weapons specification.  However, the County charged my son again with a Felonious Assault (serious bodily injury).  Approximately tent (10) months ago, Newburgh Heights placed my son on unpaid leave of absence and he has been out of work since.

On Monday July 6, 2009, my son was scheduled for trial in Common Pleas Court and was represented by mike Maloney.  Mike was meticulous during his cross-examination of the alleged victim, and the judge eventually dismissed the felony charges against my son.

In closing, I wanted to thank the O.P.B.A and every one of you for all your hard work and dedication during this emotional trying time.  Mike is an asset to the law enforcement profession, and I wanted to thank him personally for vindicating my son who was only guilty by association and the media.

John W. Minek

Dear Mr. Gallagher:

OPBA Members of the Sylvania Township Police Department would like to take the time recognize our local legal representative, Justin Burnard, of Allotta, Farley & Widman.  We have been embroiled in the worst, most difficult and quite frankly negative contract negotiations in the history of our Police Department, as evidenced by the fact that despite our contract expiring on September 30, 2007, we still do not have a signed contract.  Justin always goes above and beyond for our members and these past negotiations have been no different.

Justin remained poised and professional throughout the entire process, despite the fact that same professionalism was rarely extended to him from management and their counsel.  Justin was always prepared for every step in the process and we would be remiss to overlook his dedication and passionate representation to our members.

These negotiations have involved every step in the process, negotiations, fact-finding and conciliation.  Truthfully, we did not fair very well after the fact-finding process.  We believe most Attorneys would advise to accept the report because of the difficulty in over-turning any of the fact-finders decisions.  Justin, however, was not satisfied.  Justin felt the fact-finders report was flawed and that we could win in conciliation.  Justin’s preparations for conciliation were flawless and we were able to reverse 7 of the 9 issues brought to conciliation, a remarkable feat indeed!  We have yet to be presented with a version of the contract from management we can sign; however, we have come to expect every tactic possible from the other side.

Thank you for providing a professional and knowledgeable representative located in our area.  This uphill battle would have been impossible if travel time had been an issue.

Thanks again,
Sgt. Bob Colwell, Sgt Bob Hanhenhof
Off. Kevin Pelwecki, Off. Tom Vanderhorst
Dispatcher Jane Dufendock, Dispatcher Michelle Baum

The Northwood Police Officer’s Association would like to thank Justin Burnard and Amy Zawacki, of Allotta, Farley and Widman, for their relentless work and efforts on our recently approved contract with the City of Northwood.  As negotiations progressed our association made some concession but, with the economy in the state that it is in, we were still able to secure a respectable raise for each year of our current three year agreement with the City.  Thanks again, Justin and Amy for all your hard work!

I would like to thank the OPBA for the beautiful plaque, badge and monetary gift I received in honor of my recent retirement from the Auglaize County Sheriff’s Office. I had 25 ½ years of working with great people as a Deputy. I was fortunate to be able to work beside two of your Special Counselors, Joe Hegedus and Matt Baker during negotiations and would like to thank them personally for their exceptional work. Sincerely, Brent Henschen.

I am writing to express my appreciation for the professional representation that I and my colleagues have received from both Matt Baker and Joe Hegedus over these last years of my career. Having recently retired with a combined 23 years of law enforcement experience, I have worked without representation, became familiar with the representation, or lack thereof, of other unions, and to receive the quality services rendered by these two attorneys. It is not easy to put into words and express the appreciation that I feel.

It doesn’t seem befitting but, Joe, matt, Thank You! You two have gone above and beyond the call of duty as the old saying goes. Thanks for being there.

Sgt. Will Moore (Retired)
Columbus Regional Airport AuthorityCorrections Officer Eugene Dykes

Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office
Dear Mr. Dykes:

The newest contract between the OPBA and the Sheriff has been a long and tedious journey. However, the members won the right to donate sick leave to fellow employees.

With the illness of Corrections Officer Michelle Roberts, you entered uncharted waters. You successfully obtained many hours of sick time, donated by you and your fellow employees for Ms. Roberts. This donated time kept her covered under the Counties Healthcare plan in her time of need.

Your actions are well noticed and appreciated by your fellow employees and the OPBA. Please accept our appreciation and gratitude for your exemplary efforts and behalf of Ms. Roberts, and the inspiration you have given us all through your selfless actions.

Very truly yours,
Terry Gallagher, Executive Director
Ohio Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association

I am writing to you today to express my appreciation and joy at having Attorney Dominic Vitantonio as a representative; on my now exonerated court case. Attorney Dominic Vitantonio showed a level of class and professionalism that is expected of a fine attorney and he did not disappoint, at any turn of this case. He made the prosecution dig deep and made them run hard in pursuit of a case that he was determined that they would not win. He was called to duty and a duty he did do with not only knowledge and know how, but integrity. I tell you from the heart that his performance was truly of a higher caliber. I also thank the OPBA for all the assistance that they gave me and all the requests that they afforded me in this case.

Respectfully yours,
Eric E. Rives
CMHA Police Department

Dear Mr. Gallagher:

I would like to take the time to say “thank you” to you, the union and especially Dominic Vitantonio. I recently went through a federal trial claiming excessive force, I was facing ten years imprisonment, and $250,000 on each count due to false allegations brought against me from the juvenile detention center, Lucas County Children Services and the FBI. The past two and half years have been very stressful for my family and myself not knowing what the outcome of the trial would be. Because of the professionalism that Dominic displayed in my four-day trial, I was found not guilty on all four counts of the indictment. I cannot express how grateful my family and I are for the help that the union supplied for me. I would describe Dominic as being a top-notch attorney that is very knowledgeable of the law and I would recommend him to anyone.

Thank you,
Deputy Sheriff Troy W. Jackson, Sr.
Lucas County Sheriff Department, Toledo Ohio

Dear OPBA Executive Board, Staff and Members:

Thank you for the wonderful gifts, I was so surprised by the generosity of this membership that it made me realize how fortunate I was to be a member of this organization. I went through a very trying time in may of 1998, when I was reduced in rank from Captain down to Officer, but with the OPBA behind me the matter was settled in less than three months, that is amazing being settled so quickly, but it sent out a message loud and clear through the Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections that the OPBA was an organization that you did not want to tangle with.

I don’t think I would have made it during that time without the OPBA in my corner and for that I thank you again and again.

Captain Dana Darling, Retired

To: Executive Director Terry Gallagher:

As an active member of the OPBA for a couple of decades I wanted to write to you and tell you what a great article Randall Weltman, Esquire wrote in the Police Beat Magazine, Fall 2007, Volume 29, Number 3. His article Remember: You’re on Candid Camera is an excellent article and on the mark with its message. Currently we have placed new tools, specifically, Mobile Data Terminals (MDT’s) as well as Arbitrator Camera’s and microphones into our cruisers equipment scheme. Our intent is to protect our officers as they perform their daily assignments, assist them in presenting evidence to support their charges, assist in criminal investigations and to win our court cases. The cameras also assist us when citizens make accusations against our officers and they allow us to immediately assess the issue. The camera tapes can also be used to assess crimes/assaults against our officers, if needed, and with the proper perspective used as training tools to increase our skills and professional approaches to incidents.

Mr. Weltman is also on the mark with the Cleveland area T.V. market. One example is Channel 19 News “See it, Snap it, Send it” at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . We have encountered instances in which pictures of an incident were on line with the news media prior to our public release. As we cannot control all of the information sent into the news media and by whom and under what circumstances, it is incumbent upon us to keep our officers as informed as possible about the fact that they are always under scrutiny. All one has to do is think of how many evidence recordings that we obtain from retail stores, banks, gas stations and now even private residences that use video recording as a method of security. You only have to go to Youtube.com and observe videos sent in by practically everyone who can operate a cell phone camera and in which they can set the stage for the event, record and edit the activities, and paint a jaundiced picture that favors their bias.

Thank you and Mr. Weltman for bringing such a current topic to light to all members of the OPBA. You are truly looking out for your member’s interests.

Chief Daniel A. Hoffman
Parma Police Department

Dear Mr. Gallagher:

Recently the Norton Police Department went through a very trying time as we were forced to fight for our jobs as the Summit County Sheriff’s Office and one lone councilman attempted to abolish the Norton Police Department on Election Day 2007. On November 6th the citizens of Norton voted to keep their police department by a 69% to 31% margin.

I want to thank you for your support during these past few months. I also want to thank the OPBA as a whole for their financial support. Early on in this, Attorney Kevin Powers held a meeting with our members and gave us advice and an opinion as to what we were going to have to do to defeat this issue. Our members heard things in that meeting that they didn’t necessarily want to hear but they needed to know the facts.

Unfortunately, we were forced into a fight that we didn’t want. Again, the OPBA was there to assist us and offer whatever they could to see to it that we were victorious on Election Day. We fought aggressively and our hard work prevailed at the end.

Thank you Mr. Gallagher and the OPBA.

Ptl. John Canterbury
Norton Police Department

Dear Mr. Gallagher:

I am writing this letter to make sure you are aware of the superior performance of Attorney S. Randall Weltman.  Recently members of the Norton Police Department went through a very long and stressful contract negotiations with the city of Norton.  After Fact-Finding, Conciliation and an Appeal through the Summit County Common Pleas Court a decision was rendered that gave positive results to the bargaining unit members.  Attorney Weltman’s professionalism and experience were invaluable.

Attorney Weltman’s hard work was evident during the many phone calls we had together.  As you know, Attorney Weltman has a long history in labor issues with the city of Norton.  His expertise in confronting issues that at times seem unique with the City of Norton provide insight like no other.  Putting it simply, Attorney Weltman's work is exceptional.

His hard work and determination should make the Ohio PBA stand up and take notice.  I have had the opportunity tow work with Randy through many contacts here in Norton.  Our contract has a long history in that we have been members of the Ohio PBA for about 23 years.  On behalf of the members of the Norton Police Department I want to express our appreciation to Attorney Weltman for a job well done.

I also want to commend Attorney Mark J. Volcheck for a superb job in handling our representation during the Appeal to the Summit County Common Pleas Court.  His performance did not go unnoticed.

Mr. Gallagher, you are the Executive Director to a fine organization that provides help to police officers and dispatchers in all kinds of labor issues.  The Ohio PBA is a professional organization that I am proud to be associated with.  Please keep up the good work.

Ptl. John Canterbury
Norton Police Dept.

Dear Mr. Gallagher:

Please accept this letter as my appreciation for the excellent job done by my OPBA union attorney Joe Hegedus.

I was terminated unexpectedly on June 23, 2005 by the, Delaware County Sheriff Al Myers.  Thankfully, I pay union dues as a non-bargaining member of the OPBA and was blessed to have Joe Hegedus stand by me and represent me for the past two years.  I am happy to report that I was recently re-instated back to the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office.

I feel compelled to share with everyone that Joe Hegedus is well respected in the Central Ohio community as a fierce contract negotiator and excellent union attorney.  In addition, I recognize him as an honorable and compassionate man.  Joe was very supportive to me during this extremely trying period in my life.  He was always in constant communication with me, gave me hones and sound advice, and was an incredible litigator in my hearings.

I am so thankful that I am part of the OPBA, and used one of your most valuable resources, JOE HEGEDUS.

Lieutenant Kevin Savage
Delaware County Sheriff’s Office

In August 2006, the sergeant’s contract expired. The OLC was our bargaining representative. We had a decision to make. Would we continue with a rubber stamp of a contract & stay with the OLC or would we make a switch to the OPBA?

Even though the OLC negotiated our previous contracts, all of the sergeants continued throughout the years being paying members of the OPBA. There were reasons for this. We always had strong faith in the OPBA believing that in a time of need the OPBA would be there for us & the same could not be said of the OLC. Based on the current needs of our unit & in order to achieve a fair contract in upcoming negotiations, the OPBA would be the best union to assist us. The OPBA has a proven track record & is willing to go to great lengths & will spare no expense as it represents its members' interests.

To find an example of the OPBA's willingness to represent its membership, we have to look no further than to our fellow patrol officers unit here in Warrensville Hts. This unit is currently involved in an almost unheard of situation. Despite being awarded a fair contract at both the fact-finding & conciliation level, this city has objected on baseless grounds. To further prove this point, the OPBA had this fair contract upheld to the scrutiny in common pleas court & the OPBA has had the fortitude to continue this fight which is currently involved in the Court of Appeals.  The OPBA has shown its commitment to its members’ for a process that has lasted over 2 ½ years.

So in reality it was an easy decision for us to make as we voted unanimously to go with the OPBA. In a time when some cities are apparently anti-union based on their actions combined with increased healthcare costs & other factors, the OPBA is best suited to handle these matters. We want to specifically thank Randy Weltman for all of his assistance & dedication that he has provided throughout the years.

Warrensville Hts   (SERGEANTS UNIT)

Dear Sir:

My name is John Rumancik and I have been a police officer with the Howland Police Department since 1975. I have been involved with several police contract committees and recently represented the supervisors in the 2007, 2008 and 2009 contract. Attorney Nike Hostler was our OPBA Representative. Mike was honest, knew what we could get and what we could not. Mike had statistics from other departments and he always had an immediate answer when the Township proposed a questionable proposal or idea. We feel the contract we bargain ed for and accepted was fair and beneficial. All officers are happy with this contract. We appreciate Mike’s hard work and valuable input with this contract. Thank you. Sergeant John Rumancik

Dear Terry:

Please accept this letter of appreciation for the service of Marilyn Widman during our recent contract negotiations.

Marilyn spent countless hours with our negotiating team and “at the table” with our employer to ensure our contract would be drafted to our benefit. Marilyn offered guidance and leadership during this stressful and extended process that began in June and ended November with the ratification of our contract.

This was a new experience for all of us on the negotiating team. Although the process was frustrating at times, Marilyn’s knowledge and professionalism made this a learning experience for the negotiating team and beneficial for all members of the Sheriff’s Office.

In Conclusion, thanks to Marilyn and the OPBA for a job well done.

Wood County Sheriff’s Office Negotiating Team
Tim Spees, Donna Spees, Shelly Vajen, Ginnie Webber, Melody Maurer, Jamie Webb

We filed a grievance with the City reference Prisoner Transport Detail. It went through the Steps as per the contract. The Safety Service Director decided to pay one of our Patrolman 8 hours of Overtime. I believe he did this in lieu of going to Arbitration. We think it’s a Win. Thank you OPBA and Matt Baker, Esq.

Todd Aderholt, Alliance Police Dept.

Today I received a thoughtful package from the OPBA Office!  Thank you very much.  When collective bargaining came about for Law Enforcement I served several years as a contract negotiator before issues made it necessary to seek professional representation.  We went initially with the State FOP supported organization; I forget their 3 letter initials.  We were very disappointed during that entire relationship!!  OPBA members in the Bellefontaine P.D. are very happy with the help and representation Joe Hegedus, as well as everyone else in your organization.  Thanks again for the plaque, badge and case and check.  Your association walks its talk!

J. Tetirick, Retired Bellefontaine

Dear Mr. Gallagher:

It is with great pleasure I write to inform you of the commendable performance of OPBA attorney Matt Baker during my seven months of litigation after my termination from Athens County 9-1-1.  Matt’s tenacity and resolve to have my termination overturned was a main factor in the arbitrator’s decision that “…a discharge in this case was unjustified”.

Please take pride in knowing that the OPBA members who are in Matt’s jurisdiction are well represented.

Respectfully submitted,
Warren Ferguson, Dispatcher
Athens County 9-1-1

Dear Executive Director

On behalf of the union membership of the Canfield Police Department, I want to make you aware of the fine work being done by Business Agent Jeff Perry.  Our negotiations recently concluded with fact finding.  Jeff arrived at the session prepared, rehearsed, and in possession of all necessary supportive documentation.  Jeff presented the union’s position with clarity and competence.  Due to Jeff’s hard work, the union received respectable raises while keeping health care premium contributions to a minimum.

The OPBA is certainly a professional organization, and this is clearly reflected through Jeff.

Thank You!

Dean S. Vrancic, Union Director
Canfield Police Department

Dear Terry:

I am writing to express my thanks to the OPBA for our recent contract and for all of the assistance Joe Hegedus provided us in reaching an agreement. After our previous contract members of our bargaining unit concluded that our legal representation through the OLC was not adequate and we opted for a change. I spoke to several other departments that were represented by the OPBA in our area. All had positive comments and I arranged to set up a meeting with the OPBA. After meeting with Joe our membership agreed to petition SERB to change our representation. Joe assisted us in this process and provided guidance so we could make the transition smoothly. Once recognized by SERB we began negotiations with the City with the backing of the OPBA. Since we are a public safety department providing police, fire and emergency medical services, we have a unique schedule and issues, which may differ from a standard police contract. Joe understood our unique situation and provided valuable insight in several areas for us. Negotiations concluded with all parties agreeing to accept the Fact Finders report in July. Joe provided us with excellent counsel throughout the process. We made significant gains in several key areas that I am not sure would have occurred had we maintained our previous representation. Joe attended every negotiation session and numerous other meetings along the way. Every phone call was returned and every question was answered. I am very pleased with the representation we have received form Joe and the OPBA.


Lt. Randy Baldridge
City of Oakwood Department of Public Safety

Dear Terry Gallagher:

I am Deputy Aaron Maynard local OPBA Director of the Athens County Sheriff’s Office. I wanted to take a brief moment to thank you and the OPBA for having Matt Baker available to us during these hostile times within our organization. Matt has been extremely thorough, tentative, and available to our needs. His professionalism and subject matter expertise has been unmatched and I thank you for that. It is extremely comforting to know that at anytime I can reach out to Matt with any problems, questions or concerns and receives a call back from Matt in a timely and efficient manner.

Respectfully submitted,
Aaron Maynard
Athens County Sheriff’s Office Local Director

I am writing to inform you of what an exceptional Union I feel you have and specifically give a well deserved pat on the back to Matt Baker, my union attorney. Matt has proven to me that OPBA strives to hire the best Attorney’s they can. He is a man of honor, “integrity”, and loyalty to its members and to representing OPBA as a union that any Officer would love to be a part of.

In late December of 2004 I was unjustly terminated from my job, of eleven years, for allegedly violating the Political Activity section within the ORC. In short I did not support the incumbent Sheriff and he won the election. Matt Baker was my Union representative and he began immediately researching the ORC and Case Law in reference to my situation. Through six month of constant research, hard work, and determination on Matt’s behalf, I was awarded my job back by an arbitrator in June with full back pay and benefits.

Until you go through something of this magnitude you will never understand how difficult it is. The many sleepless nights of thinking how I was going to take care of may family and all my responsibilities is one experience I never want to go through again. I can honestly say that it was because of Matt Baker and the OPBA that I can now sleep a little better at night. I cannot think of any words that are powerful enough to express my sincere appreciation to Matt for all he has done for my family and me. He would always call to check on my family to see if we needed anything and would always return phone calls in a timely manner. “Matt you will always be in our hearts and prayers and I will never forget what you have done for my family.”

In closing, my hat is off and a salute goes to you, Matt Baker, for a job well done. Also to OPBA for recruiting Matt to “our” union. And if anyone ever has the opportunity to join OPBA as a union I guarantee you will never regret it.


Sgt. Bryan Cooper
Athens County Sheriff’s Office

Dear Mr. Gallagher:

I am writing this letter to commend an attorney that works for the OPBA. I am a Union members and office holder for the OPBA at Athens County Sheriff’s Office in Athens, Ohio. This letter is to commend Matthew Baker on the outstanding performance he does for all union members in our organization. Each time I have called him he has been prompt in returning calls and helping with any problems that arise in our area. He by far has a very hard task that could not be handled by very many people but he does it in a very professional manner at all times. He is a credit to the OPBA and to law enforcement agencies across Ohio. Please tell him to keep up the good work for me.

Thank you,

Jack Taylor
Athens County S/O, Deputy

Last Updated (Sunday, 11 March 2012 13:18)