Last updated: August 24. 2013 3:24PM - 311 Views

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LIMA — Anna Schnippel returns today as executive director of a troubled Allen Metropolitan Housing Authority.

The Met Housing board of directors voted Tuesday to return Schnippel from two months of suspension.

Schnippel, 46, has been on paid administrative leave since June 25, accused by state officials of signing off on a fraudulent workers' compensation claim.

Board member Paige Townsend said recent resignations and terminations have left the $8 million agency short-staffed.

“It’s more productive to have her productive,” Townsend said. “It’s been several months, and she’s innocent until proven guilty.”

Schnippel, 46, is accused of signing off on a fraudulent workers’ compensation claim by Cheryl Lawson, a Met Housing employee who attempted to block a police raid at the Met Housing offices, 600 S. Main St., in March. Police were responding to a tip that documents were being shredded in connection with an ethics investigation at the housing agency.

Lawson, in her claim, said she was injured during the police confrontation. Officials with the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation determined Lawson’s claim was untrue. She faces criminal misdemeanor charges in the confrontation as well as the workers’ comp claim.

A pretrial hearing was held Aug. 8 in Lima Municipal Court, where she is faces two misdemeanor charges of falsification. A trial date has not been scheduled.

The Ohio Ethics Commission is continuing an investigation of the federally funded agency. The specific nature of the investigation has not been disclosed. Spokeswoman Susan Willeke said the commission does not discuss ongoing investigations. Willeke said the Ethics Commission and Bureau of Workers’ Compensation are working independently.

The charges against Schnippel and Lawson stem from a March 27 raid on the Met Housing offices by investigators with the Lima Police Department. Responding to a report of document shredding, officers occupied the offices for several hours while waiting for a search warrant authorizing investigators to seize computers and files.

During that raid, officials said, Lawson blocked officers’ entry. She was arrested on suspicion of obstruction of official business, according to previous reports. She pleaded not guilty to that charge.

On May 1, Lawson filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits, saying officers injured her during the stand-off, and Schnippel signed off on the claim knowing it was false, according to officials.

Lawson’s jury trial is scheduled for 9 a.m. Sept. 25 in Lima Municipal Court.

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