Fresno County's Chief Probation Officer feels vindicated as he returns to his job

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Fresno County's Chief Probation Officer returned to the job this week after being on paid administrative leave since April. (KFSN)

Fresno County's Chief Probation Officer returned to the job this week after being on paid administrative leave since April. Rick Chavez returned to work feeling vindicated. He said he knew he didn't do anything wrong.

"It caused some fractures within our operations, but I can say I'm very proud of our staff who carried on during the time I was gone."

Chavez received this a from Fresno County Superior Court presiding judge Kimberly Gaab saying judges voted to retain him.

Among other things, Chavez was accused of making disrespectful comments about the superior court and allowing a subordinate to own a club with a liquor license. Attorney Barry Bennett called the allegations trivial.

"It's certainly not what you'd expect from a group of judges who are supposed to be objective, impersonal."

Chavez earned the support of county supervisors and administrators. Voters will now decide a power struggle come November. A charter amendment would have the County Oversee the Chief Probation Officer position rather than superior court judges.

"Maybe what they should be doing is decide the cases that come in front of them, rather than try to operate a department and get involved in the internal politics," said Bennett.

Chavez felt his case seemed to be more personal in nature rather than professional.

"Maybe I was a bit naive but at the end of the day politics is politics."

Chavez is also in charge of Fresno County's Juvenile Justice System. He offered this message upon his return to the office.

"I said, 'if I bear no ill will towards anyone then none of you in the department should as well and we need to heal and move forward.'"

Chavez has worked 32 years in the Fresno County Probation Department serving the last three as chief.
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