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SUSPENDED AIDE IS BACK ON THE JOB

Stefani Perakis, who sat at home drawing a county salary for two years while her boss tried unsuccessfully to fire her, has returned to work.

Peter P. Lopes, Niagara County human resources director, said last week that Perakis returned March 18 to her former job as a $34,416-a-year community mental health aide in the Mental Health Department.

Mental Health Director Antoinette Lech had suspended Perakis as of Jan. 1, 2003. Under civil service rules, an employee can be suspended without pay for no more than 30 days, so Perakis resumed drawing her pay even though Lech did not allow her to work.

A hearing was held on whether the county could fire Perakis, a Civil Service Employees Association member. The verdict from the hearing officer Oct. 23 was no. The county then spent several months trying to find somewhere else to employ her but eventually returned her to her old job.

Perakis, 47, has been a county employee since 1985. She is a former coordinator of Niagara County Rape Crisis Services.

e-mail: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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