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Wayne Township fire chief out, new fire chief named following WRTV Investigation

Marcus Reed new chief starting August 1
Mike Lang (left) has been removed as fire chief.  Marcus Reed (right) will become fire chief as of August 1.
Posted at 10:22 AM, Jul 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-18 10:32:18-04

WAYNE TOWNSHIP — The newly elected Wayne Township Trustee has replaced the fire chief following a year-long WRTV investigation into compensation for the department’s administration.

On Monday, Trustee Jeb Bardon announced Marcus Reed will serve as the Wayne Township fire chief, effective Aug. 1.

Bardon named Assistant Fire Chief Matt Stewart as interim chief until Reed takes over on Aug. 1.

Mike Lang will no longer serve as fire chief and is now employed as a captain with the Wayne Township Fire Department.

Lang, former trustee Chuck Jones, former fire chief Randy Adams, and fire mechanic James Parham all pleaded guilty last month to Conflict of Interest, a misdemeanor.

None of them will serve any jail time.

Court documents allege they used a contract with the Wayne Township Fire Department, Inc., a non-profit corporation, to pay themselves additional money on top of their fire department salaries.

As WRTV reported in 2021, township officials have been receiving compensation through the nonprofit, which is funded through donations and taxpayer money.

As part of a plea agreement with prosecutors, the charge was reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor.

Adams, Jones, and Lang must each repay $31,939 in restitution and mechanic James Parham has to pay $1,200 in restitution for total of $97,017.

Prosecutors allege between December 20, 2019, and May 19, 2021, they "knowingly or intentionally" profited from contracts between the nonprofit and the fire department.

Bardon said replacing the fire chief is the first of many reforms to restore trust and confidence in the Wayne Township Trustee’s Office and Fire Department.

“Given all that transpired under the previous fire administration, significant changes must be made. And, those changes began this week,” Bardon said. “I am confident that given Chief Reed’s experience, he is the right person to lead the Wayne Township Fire Department forward. He brings credibility, integrity and a track record of changing culture and improving service. I am grateful to him for taking on this role.”

Before retiring in January, Reed served five years as fire chief in Westfield and has held similar roles with Central Oregon Coast Fire and Rescue, the City of Roseville in California, Portland Oregon’s Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue, and in Clark County Washington, according to the trustee’s office.

“The Wayne Township Fire Department is a world-class organization, and it deserves strong and ethical leadership,” Bardon said. “It’s my commitment to our firefighters, EMTs, all first responders and all citizens of Wayne Township to rebuild trust, create greater accountability, and to restore pride in this department.”

The Wayne Township Advisory Board will approve Reed’s contract at their meeting this Wednesday.

Bardon replaced former trustee Chuck Jones, who resigned on June 27.

PREVIOUS | Democrats ask Chuck Jones to step down | Charges filed following WRTV Investigation into Wayne Township fire admin compensation | Township trustee and fire employees owe taxpayers $351K, audit reveals

Bardon will serve out the remainder of Jones’ term, which ends on December 31, 2022. He currently owns and operates three Subway franchises and previously served as a state representative from 1998 through 2014.

Voters will elect a new township trustee, Bardon or Republican Rick Scott, on November 8, 2022.

WRTV Investigates found Adams and his two deputy chiefs at the time, including Lang, racked up 1,358 hours of overtime in 2019 and 2020 for a total of $113,290.

READ | Wayne Township Fire Dept. administration takes heat over overtime

WRTV reviewed hundreds of pages of records and found Adams and his two deputy chiefs charged taxpayers 791 overtime hours in 2020, including attending meetings at the administration building before 8 am, after 4 pm, and on weekends.

They also charged overtime for travel to places like South Dakota and North Carolina, including to inspect fire trucks. Records show Adams’ total compensation in 2020 was $190,345.

Lang, who was Deputy Chief of Administration in 2020, received a total compensation that year of $151,766.

PREVIOUS | Wayne Township Fire Chief, Trustee face questions over nonprofit compensation | Wayne Township Fire Department administrators take heat over overtime pay | New fire chief pledges changes to payroll |City-County councilors say Wayne Twp nonprofit should be dissolved following WRTV Investigation | Wayne Township fire chief, administration can no longer receive overtime pay under new ordinance