Ramirez put on leave with pay | NevadaAppeal.com

Ramirez put on leave with pay

Dave Frank
Nevada Appeal Staff Writer

Carson City’s Citizen Outreach Coordinator has been put on leave with pay from his job while the city investigates claims against him of felony extortion and other crimes that could cost him his job.

Javier Ramirez, who has been the city’s liaison to the Hispanic community and grant administrator since 2006, will be investigated by the city government, the sheriff’s department and the district attorney during his suspension that followed his arrest Wednesday, according to City Manager Larry Werner.

Ramirez eventually could be allowed back to his job or be fired, Werner said, depending on what is found in the investigation.

“Something like this will put an employee under extreme scrutiny because of the level of trust involved,” he said.

Ramirez was in charge of administering hundreds of thousands of dollars in Community Development Block Grants from the federal government each year for public and private projects like sidewalk improvements and the new Boys & Girls Club building.

Werner said the city finance department is checking to make sure Ramirez didn’t spend any of that money illegally.

Ramirez is accused of loaning someone $3,000 and then extorting her for repayment.

He did not return calls for comment Thursday. He is out on bail.

Though Ramirez is on leave with pay from his job, it is not clear how long that will last.

Ramirez, who makes about $58,000 a year, is paid mostly through grants that can’t be used for leave pay.

But the city can’t afford to give Ramirez unbudgeted leave pay from the general fund for long, Werner said, so the position might have to be cut.

The position “under optimum times would be warranted,” Mayor Marv Teixeira said, “but under present economic conditions should be looked at.”

It was never a job designed to be permanent, he said, but after the first six months, there was more grant work to do.

But the position has a “vital role” in the city, Supervisor Robin Williamson said, because someone is needed to help handle grants.

Ramirez himself, she said, “was certainly a competent employee.”

Supervisor Pete Livermore said the board of supervisors relies on the city manager to handle employees, but described Ramirez’s work as a translator and event organizer as “positive,” adding that the position is needed to help the city interact with the Hispanic community.

“If it’s not Javier, it needs to be someone else eventually,” Livermore said.

Leticia Servin, head of a Carson City parent group promoting education called Comite de Padres Latinos, said she thinks it’s unfortunate that Ramirez could be known for a mistake he made rather than all the good he did.

He did a lot for the Hispanics in Carson City, she said, and many people admired him.

“His whole heart was set to help the community, ” she said.

– Contact reporter Dave Frank at dfrank@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1212.