After 129 days on paid leave and a failure to reach a mutual separation agreement, the leader of Summit County’s public busing agency has been let go.

The Metro RTA board voted Friday to fire embattled Executive Director Richard Enty following an investigation into ethics and harassment complaints leveled against him. He had two years left on a three-year contract.

Acting Director Angela Neeley, who is director of finance, will remain at the helm until the board decides how to proceed, likely next week.

Enty was not present at Friday’s meeting. His attorney, Ed Gilbert, was in Cleveland and said he didn’t have a chance to immediately review the ruling, though he suspects race and a power struggle were factors.

“I’ll be reviewing [whether to appeal the decision in court] with Mr. Enty, but it’s no surprise because we had a group of people who ganged up to remove him,” Gilbert said. “The whole situation was extremely exaggerated. And there’s a number people who are just not used to a strong African-American leader, and that’s the troubling aspect of this.”

Enty appeared Tuesday without his attorney as the Metro RTA board of trustees triggered a process that would have suggested a mutual agreement or deal might be struck. Following rules in his labor contract, the board had sent Enty a notice of the hearing, which provided him an opportunity to respond to the six reasons they saw fit to terminate him: continued mistreatment of employees; misconduct toward a specific employee; insubordination for contacting an employee while on leave; retaliatory behavior against an employee who filed a harassment complaint; discussing that complaint with other staff without permission; and multiple issues the board has filed with the Ohio Ethics Commission. The last of those concerns are under review by the FBI.

The board met Friday with member Renee Greene absent. They quickly went into a closed-door session to discuss a “personnel matter.”

Back in public session for less than a minute, President Heather Heslop Licata asked for a motion to terminate Enty’s contract. Jack Hefner, former Akron councilman and president of the United Steelworkers Local 2, obliged. The motion carried with only Donald Christian objecting and Robert DeJournett abstaining.

No public discussion took place before the vote, despite Licata asking if anyone wanted to talk on the record. Licata deferred all comments regarding Enty to Karen Adinolfi, a Roetzel & Andress attorney hired by the board.

Adinolfi confirmed that no deal was reached in the “clean termination.” A mutual agreement would have allowed for a severance package. An email request for the written notification giving cause for termination was not immediately answered two hours after the meeting.

Enty joined Metro RTA in 2011 as a planning director. He was named interim director in 2012 after the death of former director Robert Pfaff.

Saundra Foster, appointed since 1991 to represent the city of Akron on the Metro RTA board and the body’s president in 2012, participated in the search to replace Pfaff and “spearheaded” the negotiations for Enty’s first executive director contract in August 2012.

Licata filed an Ohio Ethics Commission complaint last year, questioning the relationship between Foster and Enty. The FBI has taken up the matter with federal investigators asking for the forensic files of computers, access to Foster’s and Enty’s offices, their annual performance reviews, travel and other reimbursed expenses, and information that would reflect the training each received about the ethical standards expected of public officials.

Enty provided Foster with a car starter and small loans. Metro RTA gave her family at least one free trip to the airport, all while she and the board offered Enty a three-year contract.

Enty had been suspended in 2013 for texting while driving a Metro vehicle. In April 2017, he was placed on paid leave for sending an “inappropriate and insulting” email to employees. The board split on whether to fire him in May, instead extending his leave to July, this time without pay.

Altogether, the Beacon Journal estimates — based on his 2017 salary of $129,242.65, before all benefits — that the board has paid Enty roughly $49,000 in compensation (and deferred compensation) while on leave in the past 12 months.

His contract provided annual cost-of-living increases, $1,000 annually for a gym membership and 100 percent of his state retirement contributions. It also entitled him to any sick days, vacation or personal time not used, even if he is fired.

A previous version of this story incorrectly switched the votes of Donald Christian and Robert DeJournett. Their votes are correct in this version.

Reach Doug Livingston at 330-996-3792 or dlivingston@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow him @ABJDoug on Twitter or www.facebook.com/doug.livingston.92 on Facebook.