Tallmadge parks and recreation manager David Cooper pleads not guilty to trespassing charges, awaits June 3 jury trial

Through his attorney, Cooper says he was using the restroom

by Holly Schoenstein | reporter Published:

Updated April 24, 2014, 8:10 p.m.

Tallmadge — City management told Parks and Recreation Department Manager David Cooper, who is on paid leave awaiting trial on trespassing charges, several times over the past year and a half not to enter the space Summa Rehabilitation Services leases at the Recreation Center.
But, according to records in Cooper’s personnel file, he didn’t listen — even after an employee at the Summa facility threatened to file a restraining order against him and his supervisor suggested that he stay away from that employee even on his personal time.
An internal personnel investigation and a separate police investigation are under way, according to Mayor Dave Kline. Kline has declined further comment on the matter.
Since March 28, Cooper has been on paid leave from work and is awaiting a jury trial June 3 in front of Judge Kim Hoover in Stow Municipal Court. He faces seven counts of fourth-degree misdemeanor trespassing, to which he has pleaded not guilty.
Cooper was unable to be reached before press time.
Speaking on Cooper’s behalf, attorney, Kevin Breen of Fairlawn,  says his client claims the charges, for which Summa Rehabilitation Services is the complainant, are “baseless” and are a result of a “misunderstanding.”
Breen maintains Cooper is innocent of any criminal wrongdoing and that the 55-year-old Tallmadge resident only entered the space Summa leases, a secure physical therapy and sports health care facility, to use the private restroom.
Police Lt. Ron Williams says the video surveillance system at the combined entrance and exit for Summa’s facility shows Cooper coming into and out of the space seven times between March 4 and around March 24.
The visits all happened after the facility had closed around 4 or 5 p.m. and once or twice on Sunday mornings, Williams said. The visits range from 2 to 11 minutes in duration.
Cooper served as the liaison between the Summa facility and the Recreation Center, until he was stripped of that duty Oct. 11, 2012, Williams said. The lease contract requires the city to give 24 hours notice before an employee enters Summa’s space. In the event of an emergency, such as a water leak, Williams says a city employee, other than Cooper, is authorized to use a key on the premises to enter Summa’s portion of the building.
“Summa’s concerns are with the security of their medical records and HIPAA [Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996] considerations and so forth,” Williams says.
Summa spokesman Jim Gosky said that no medical records have been compromised.
Breen says Cooper admits he was told not to enter Summa’s space, but the city never took his key away until recently.
“He at all times had a key and was provided a key by Tallmadge for the premises at Summa,” Breen says.
After Cooper was found to be entering Summa’s space again, city officials said he was placed on paid leave.
Williams says it’s unknown what Cooper was doing in that area during the visits because the surveillance system only monitors the door and not the rest of the medical facility.
“We are investigating that, and we’re trying to determine what he was doing in there,” he says. “I can say nothing’s been reported stolen, and I can say it doesn’t appear [Summa’s] computer system has been accessed.”
It doesn’t appear Cooper is carrying anything out of the room in his hands while exiting the space during those visits and that he was alone, he adds.
Cooper joined the city in 2008 as manager of the Recreation Center. He was later made Parks and Recreation and makes an annual salary of $63,564, according to Finance Director Steve Shanafelt.
Before working for Tallmadge, Cooper worked for several area YMCA facilities, including the Cuyahoga Falls branch and the Firestone Park branch. He also was the assistant director of recreation for the city of Wadsworth’s Recreation Department for 19 years.

police reports, Personnel file
A police report documents an incident from 4:45 p.m. Oct. 10, 2012, at the Recreation Center during which an unidentified and uncharged suspect’s verbal altercation with Cooper turned physical and the suspect struck Cooper. Cooper did not press charges, according to the police report that was filed five days after the incident.
The day after the fight, Cooper’s direct supervisor, Public Service Director Bryan Esler, notified Cooper in writing that he was stripped of his liaison role “in an attempt to protect yourself, our employees and our patrons from an reoccurrence or escalation of violence from your attacker.”
In an April 3, 2013, letter to Cooper, Esler said an employee filed a complaint regarding Cooper’s contact with her.
“She has stated that she has told you on several occasions to refrain from any contact with her and yet you still continue,” Esler wrote.
On April 4, 2013, Esler wrote that a Summa worker reported that Cooper has entered Summa’s space at least three days a week during working hours “to either carry a message, bring mail to them, or show a patient to their office.”
The same day, Esler said Cooper had entered Summa’s space to advise of fire alarm testing that could have been announced by another employee. Esler says the continued contact with the Summa employees Cooper was suspended for three days without pay.
A “Last Chance Agreement” signed by Esler and Cooper on April 5, 2013, states that if Cooper continues to violate his superiors’ directives, he will be fired. The Last Chance Agreement is effective for two years from the date it was signed.
Cooper’s “job never changed,” Breen reiterated. “He was never denied access to the [Summa] facility. Tallmadge never asked for his key back.”
“We expect that in due course all of the charges that have been made will be dismissed,” he said. “We don’t believe that any of the charges have merit … David is and has been a longtime upstanding member of the community there and a top-rate manager in the Recreation Department.”
Records in Cooper’s personnel file also document several complaints by his subordinates at the Recreation Center, mostly about inappropriate clothing.
In his most recent performance review dated March 7, 2014, Esler notes Cooper needs to improve the employee morale in his department. Esler notes Cooper “responds to citizens appropriately but I have had several complaints about overly aggressive communication with employees.”
Cooper also received a “needs improvement” score for not telling Esler when he’s planning to be absent from work for flex time or vacation.
Cooper was given a written warning on Oct. 11, 2013, for making hundreds of photocopies on a copy machine at the Recreation Center for a task that was outside of his job duties.
Contact this reporter at 330-541-9428 or hschoenstein@recordpub.com
Facebook: Holly Schoenstein, Record Publishing Co.
Twitter: @SchoensteinH

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Updated April 24, 2014, 10:48 a.m.

Tallmadge — David Cooper, the manager of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, remains on paid leave pending the result of a criminal investigation.
Cooper is out of jail and awaiting a jury trial in front of Judge Kim Hoover in Stow Municipal Court June 3 on seven, fourth-degree misdemeanor counts of trespassing. He has  pleaded not guilty to all of the charges.
Through his attorney Kevin Breen, of Fairlawn, Cooper says the charges, for which Summa Rehabilitation Services is the complainant, are “baseless” and are a result of a “misunderstanding.” Breen maintains Cooper is innocent of any criminal wrongdoing and that Cooper only entered the space Summa leases at the Tallmadge Recreation Center to use the private restroom.
Summa operates a secure physical therapy and sports health care facility from the Recreation Center.
But the city and Summa have reason to believe criminal acts were committed. Police Lt. Ron Williams says the memory of the video surveillance system at the combined entrance and exit for Summa’s facility shows Cooper coming into and out of the space seven times between March 4 and around March 24.
The visits don’t fit a pattern as far as days of the week or times of the day, Williams says, but they all happened after the facility had closed around 4 or 5 p.m. and once or twice on Sunday mornings. The visits range from 2 to 11 minutes in duration.
Cooper had served as the liaison between the Summa facility and the Recreation Center, until he was stripped of that duty Oct. 11, 2012, Williams said. He's unable to disclose why Cooper no longer serves as the liaison, saying it’s a personnel matter.
“His job never changed,” Breen says about Cooper. “He was never denied access to the [Summa] facility. Tallmadge never asked for his key back.”
Breen declines to further discuss why Cooper was told not to enter Summa’s space and why he continued to do so after being told not to. Breen says the relevant facts will come out during the trial.
“We expect that in due course all of the charges that have been made will be dismissed,” he says. “We don’t believe that any of the charges have merit ... David is and has been a longtime upstanding member of the community there and a top-rate manager in the Recreation Department.”
The lease contract requires the city to give 24 hours notice before an employee enters Summa’s space. In the event of an emergency, such as a water leak, Williams says a city employee, other than Cooper, is authorized to use a key on premises to enter Summa’s portion of the building.
“Summa’s concerns are with the security of their medical records and HIPAA [Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996] considerations and so forth,” Williams says.
Summa spokesman Jim Gosky confirms that no medical records have been compromised.
Breen says Cooper admits he was told not to enter Summa’s space, but the city never took his key away until recently.
“He at all times had a key and was provided a key by Tallmadge for the premises at Summa,” Breen says.
After Cooper was found to be entering Summa’s space again, city officials had said he was placed on paid leave March 28, 2014.
Williams says it’s unknown what Cooper was doing in that area during the visits because the surveillance system only monitors the door and not the rest of the medical facility.
“We are investigating that, and we’re trying to determine what he was doing in there,” he says. “I can say nothing’s been reported stolen, and I can say it doesn’t appear [Summa’s] computer system has been accessed.”
It doesn’t appear Cooper is carrying anything out of the room in his hands while exiting the space during those visits and that he was alone, he adds.
Williams says he’s unable to disclose Cooper’s response as to why he had repeatedly entered that space.
Tallmadge Mayor Dave Kline says the city is conducting an internal investigation separate from the police department’s criminal investigation. He declines further comment.
The Tallmadge Express is awaiting a response to its request to inspect Coopers’ personnel file.
Cooper, a 55-year-old Tallmadge resident, had  joined the city in 2008 as manager of the Recreation Center to replace former manager of the Recreation Center, Thomas Headrick, who was fired that year for theft in office. Cooper was later promoted to manager of Parks and Recreation and makes an annual salary of $63,564, according to Finance Director Steve Shanafelt.
Before coming to Tallmadge, Cooper worked for several area YMCA facilities, including the Cuyahoga Falls branch and the Firestone Park branch. He also was the assistant director of recreation for the city of Wadsworth’s Recreation Department for 19 years.
Contact this reporter at 330-541-9428 or hschoenstein@recordpub.com
Facebook: Holly Schoenstein, Record Publishing Co.
Twitter: @SchoensteinH

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Updated April 22, 2014, 4:20 p.m.
Tallmadge — David Cooper, the manager of the city of Tallmadge’s Parks and Recreation Department, says he was just using the restroom during those unauthorized trips into an area of the facility that he no longer had permission to enter.
Through his attorney, Kevin Breen, of Fairlawn, Cooper maintains he hasn’t committed any wrongdoing, and the seven misdemeanor counts of trespassing stem from a “misunderstanding.”
Breen says Cooper was using the restroom in the Summa Rehabilitation Services leased portion of the building because it’s more private. Summa operates its physical therapy and sports health care facility from the facility.
But the city and Summa have reason to believe criminal acts were committed. Tallmadge Police Lt. Ron Williams says the memory of the video surveillance system at the combined entrance and exit for Summa shows Cooper coming into and out of the space seven times between March 4 and around March 24.
The visits don’t fit a pattern as far as days of the week or times of the day, Williams says, but they all happened after the facility had closed around 4 or 5 p.m. and once or twice on Sunday mornings. The visits range from two to 11 minutes in duration.
Cooper, a 55-year-old Tallmadge resident, joined the city in 2008 as manager of the Parks and Recreation Department to replace former manager of the Recreation Center, Thomas Headrick, who was fired that year for theft in office.
Cooper has been on paid leave pending the outcome of the criminal investigation.
According to Stow Municipal Court records, David Cooper has pleaded not guilty to seven counts of fourth-degree criminal trespassing and is awaiting trial June 3.
He was arrested April 14 and released from jail on a $500 personal recognizance bond the next day, court records show.
Tallmadge Mayor Dave Kline hasn’t immediately returned a call for comment.
After Summa Rehabilitation Services Cooper served as the liaison between it and the city, until he was stripped of that duty on Oct. 11, 2012, Williams says. He’s unable to disclose why Cooper no longer served as the liaison as it is a personnel matter.
The lease contract requires the city to give 24 hours notice before an employee enters the space. In the event of an emergency, such as a water leak, Williams says a city employee, other than Cooper, is authorized to use a key on premises to enter Summa’s portion of the building.
“Summa’s concerns are with the security of their medical records and HIPAA [Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996] considerations and so forth,” Williams says.
Summa spokesman Jim Gosky has confirmed that no medical records have been compromised.
Breen says Cooper admits he was told not to enter Summa’s space, but the city never took his key away.
After Cooper was found to be entering Summa’s space again, Williams says he was placed on paid leave.
He says it’s unknown what Cooper was doing in that area during the visits because the surveillance system only monitors the door and not the rest of the medical facility.
“We are investigating that, and we’re trying to determine what he was doing in there,” Williams says. “I can say nothing’s been reported stolen, and I can say it doesn’t appear [Summa’s] computer system has been accessed.”
It doesn’t appear Cooper is carrying anything out of the room in his hands while exiting the space during those visits and that he was alone, he added.
Williams says he’s unable to disclose Cooper’s response as to why he had repeatedly entered that space.
For more on this unfolding story, visit www.tallmadgeexpress.com, the Tallmadge Express Facebook page and the April 27 edition of the Express.
Contact this reporter at 330-541-9428 or hschoenstein@recordpub.com
Facebook: Holly Schoenstein, Record Publishing Co.
Twitter: @SchoensteinH

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Updated April 22, 2014, 1:55 p.m.
Tallmadge — The manager of the Parks and Recreation Department for the city of Tallmadge is on paid leave pending the outcome of a criminal investigation.
According to Stow Municipal Court records, David Cooper has pleaded not guilty to seven counts of fourth-degree criminal trespassing and is awaiting trial June 3.
He was arrested April 14 and released from jail on a $500 personal recognizance bond the next day, court records show.
His attorney, Kevin J. Breen, of Fairlawn, didn’t immediately return a call for comment. The Tallmadge Express also is awaiting a return call from Tallmadge Mayor Dave Kline.
Tallmadge Police Lt. Ron Williams says the memory of the video surveillance system for Summa Rehabilitation Services at the Recreation Center shows Cooper, who isn’t authorized to enter the space Summa leases from the city, entering and exiting it seven times between March 4 and around March 24.
The visits don’t fit a pattern as far as days of the week or times of the day, Williams says, but they all happened after the facility had closed around 4 or 5 p.m. and once or twice on Sunday mornings. The visits range from two to 11 minutes in duration.
Cooper, a 55-year-old Tallmadge resident, joined the city in 2008 as manager of the Parks and Recreation Department to replace former manager of the Recreation Center, Thomas Headrick, who was fired that year for theft in office.
After Summa Rehabilitation Services, which offers physical therapy and sports health care services, moved into the Recreation Center in 2010, Cooper served as the liaison between it and the city, until he was stripped of that duty on Oct. 11, 2012, Williams says. He’s unable to disclose why Cooper no longer served as the liaison as it is a personnel matter.
The lease contract requires the city to give 24 hours notice before an employee enters the space. In the event of an emergency, such as a water leak, Williams says a city employee, other than Cooper, is authorized to use a key on premises to enter Summa’s portion of the building.
“Summa’s concerns are with the security of their medical records and HIPAA [Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996] considerations and so forth,” Williams says.
Summa spokesman Jim Gosky has confirmed that no medical records have been compromised.
After Cooper was found to be entering Summa’s space again, Williams says he was placed on paid leave.
He says it’s unknown what Cooper was doing in that area during the visits because the surveillance system only monitors the door and not the rest of the medical facility.
“We are investigating that, and we’re trying to determine what he was doing in there,” Williams says. “I can say nothing’s been reported stolen, and I can say it doesn’t appear [Summa’s] computer system has been accessed.”
It doesn’t appear Cooper is carrying anything out of the room in his hands while exiting the space during those visits and that he was alone, he added.
Williams says he’s unable to disclose Cooper’s response as to why he had repeatedly entered that space.
For more on this unfolding story, visit www.tallmadgeexpress.com, the Tallmadge Express Facebook page and the April 27 edition of the Express.
Contact this reporter at 330-541-9428 or hschoenstein@recordpub.com
Facebook: Holly Schoenstein, Record Publishing Co.
Twitter: @SchoensteinH

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Tallmadge -- The manager of the Parks and Recreation Department for the city of Tallmadge is the subject of a criminal investigation.

According to Stow Municipal Court records, David Cooper has pleaded not guilty to seven counts of fourth-degree criminal trespassing and is awaiting trial June 3.

He was arrested April 14 and released from jail on a $500 personal recognizance bond the next day, court records show.

His attorney, Kevin J. Breen, of Fairlawn, didn't immediately return a call for comment. The Tallmadge Express also is awaiting return calls from Tallmadge Mayor Dave Kline and Police Lt. Ron Williams.

Cooper, a 55-year-old Tallmadge resident, joined the city in 2008 as manager of the Parks and Recreation Department to replace former manager of the Recreation Center, Thomas Headrick, who was fired that year for theft in office.

For more on this unfolding story, visit www.tallmadgeexpress.com, the Tallmadge Express Facebook page and the April 27 edition of the Express.

Contact this reporter at 330-541-9428 or hschoenstein@recordpub.com

Facebook: Holly Schoenstein, Record Publishing Co.

Twitter: @SchoensteinH

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