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2012-12-23T00:00:00.000Z

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Knights of Columbus

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East Longmeadow DPW employee Neil Von ...

www.masslive.com [cached]

East Longmeadow DPW employee Neil Von Flatern gets town job back after being cleared of any wrongdoing in fertilizer theft incident

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Von Flatern talked on his cell phone, looked into the utility trailer attached to his truck, and went on his way.
On April 20, Von Flatern was seen parked outside the Knights of Columbus in East Longmeadow, where he is a member. LaFonde met Von Flatern in the rear parking lot of the building and asked Von Flatern to remove the fertilizer bags from the flatbed and place them in his own truck, according to a report by arbitrator Richard G. Boulanger.
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Von Flatern put the bags in his truck and delivered them to LaFond's home on April 21. On April 23, both men were confronted about the fertilizer. On April 25, both were fired.
The United Municipal Employees of East Longmeadow union, represented by attorney John Connor, argued that the town did not have just cause to terminate Von Flatern since he believed the bags belonged to LaFond. "Mr. LaFond duped the grievant (Von Flatern) into believing that he had purchased the bags of fertilizer when, in reality, they were town property," the report states.
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Town officials also said they believed it was suspicious that Von Flatern stopped by Lenox on April 19 while LaFond had left the fertilizer unsupervised.
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However, Barone confirmed that Von Flatern did not approach the flatbed or remove any fertilizer.
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Von Flatern testified that he lives near the Lenox plant and was traveling to a customer's home when he stopped on Chestnut Street to make sure he had all the necessary equipment for a landscaping job.
After reviewing the case, Boulanger ruled that Von Flatern should be reinstated as a skilled laborer because he did not knowingly engage in the theft of town property. Von Flatern should also receive back wages starting from the day he was fired, according to Boulanger.
Connor said Von Flatern is happy to have his name cleared and his job back.
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East Longmeadow DPW employee Neil Von Flatern gets town job back after being cleared of any wrongdoing in fertilizer theft incident

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