I TEAM: big payout for fire chief who resigned facing criminal charge

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RICHFIELD, Ohio - The FOX 8 I TEAM has found a big payout for a local fire chief who just resigned while facing a charge for drunk driving.

Jason Mihalek resigned as fire chief in Richfield, and the I TEAM obtained a copy of a separation agreement showing the Village gave him two-and-a half months of regular pay and 5 weeks of vacation pay. The mayor’s office says the dollar amount for that comes to $36,472.73.

Mihalek was arrested in October in Kent and hit with a charge for driving under the influence. Mihalek is fighting the charge, and his defense attorney says he’s innocent.

Meantime, that severance agreement payout comes on top of what the fire chief already collected. He got busted back in October, and the Village says he used vacation time and was put on paid leave after the arrest with the case still pending.

Altogether adding the severance package and money from paid leave and money from vacation after the arrest, the Village says Mihalek’s pay since he’s been charged totals $53, 432.45.

Richfield Mayor Bobbie Beshara was not around when the I TEAM stopped at her office. In a statement, she wrote about the severance agreement,”… the document stands on its own as this is a personnel matter and I have nothing further to say.”

Some taxpayers we met don’t like it.

Mihalek refused to answer questions for the I TEAM at his home. He referred us to his attorney, Michael Callahan.

Callahan says the Village pushed for the agreement. He says it’s his job to get “nothing but the best” for his client. And he says, if you’re the guy out of a job, you may see the settlement in a different way.

He plans on filing new motions in the criminal case to clear the former fire chief.

Richfield has appointed a new chief, Phil McLean. The mayor says he’s been with the Village for 40 years.