Luzerne County Deputy Warden Sam Hyder has resigned after nearly five years as second-in-command of the county’s prison system, according to an email County Acting Manager Romilda Crocamo sent to county council Friday morning.
Crocomo told council Hyder informed her he is retiring.
Crocamo had sent council members a brief email Wednesday night informing them that Hyder had been placed on administrative leave, but she did not provide any details.
“Personally, I would like to thank Mr. Hyder for his many years of service to the county and wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors,” Crocamo said in a follow-up statement Friday.
She also said the opening will be advertised as soon as possible.
Hyder had returned to the county prison for the third time in December 2016 to replace James Larson, who retired.
County Correctional Services Division Head Mark Rockovich had recommended Hyder’s appointment after following the county’s merit hiring process, he said at that time. Contacted about Hyder’s resignation, Rockovich said he cannot discuss personnel matters.
According to public records and published reports:
Hyder first worked at the prison as a correctional officer but went on worker’s compensation in 1998 after he sustained injuries trying to stop inmates from beating up another prisoner. Hyder has said he was struck in the head with a heavy object, causing permanent hearing loss and unpredictable swelling in one eye.
He accepted a $70,000 settlement from the county in 2000 to close out that workers’ compensation case, saying later that the county had denied his offer to return to the prison in a light-duty capacity.
In 2004, the county prison board, which was later abolished under the home rule government structure, hired Hyder as the deputy warden of security.
Some taxpayers heavily criticized the hiring because Hyder was close friends with Greg Skrepenak, who was a county commissioner and prison board member at that time. Skrepenak had said a letter from Hyder’s doctor cleared him to perform the job.
Hyder again came under scrutiny in 2007, when it was revealed he had used a county debit card to pay for drinks at a Las Vegas strip club. He later repaid the county, saying the charge to the card was a mistake.
He was furloughed from that $74,263-a-year position in January 2010 and again sought workers’ compensation, arguing working conditions made him stressed, anxious, depressed and ultimately led to a blackout. A judge denied the request, saying he did not find Hyder’s testimony credible and that the work stresses Hyder described weren’t abnormal for someone in that position.
In 2016, Hyder was hired at $68,000 annually. Through subsequent increases based on performance reviews, his compensation was currently $72,870.