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Derek Fraser was demoted from his role of code enforcement officer after less than six months

PMG FILE PHOTO - Derek Fraser joined Columbia County as a facilities technician and was soon promoted to code enforcement officer. Now he's back in his technician position after being demoted.Columbia County is searching for a new code enforcement officer, yet again.

Derek Fraser was promoted to code enforcement officer in September. Days before the six-month probationary period of his employment was set to end, Fraser was demoted back to his previous position as a facilities technician.

Fraser was hired to the code enforcement officer position after an internal investigation into suspected coercion, theft and misconduct resulted in the county firing the previous code enforcement officer, Robert Crain. Crain's wife, Linda Crain, worked as a permit technician in the same Land Development Services department as her husband and was also implicated in the investigation. Linda Crain has since retired from the county following a period of administrative leave, a county staff member confirmed Thursday.

Fraser had been hired as a facilities technician less than a year before he was promoted.

Fraser is a part of AFSCME Local 1442, which represents most Columbia County employees. Representatives for the union did not respond to request for comment.

The county's Land Development Services director oversees the code enforcement officer role. When Fraser started as code enforcement officer, Todd Dugdale was the department director. Dugdale soon retired, and Karen Schminke was appointed the new director.

Robert Crain was dismissed last August after an investigation into suspected coercion and misconduct. A criminal investigation was ongoing at the time of his departure, but no charges have been filed. A civil lawsuit was filed in November, after Robert Crain's departure, alleging that Robert Crain had used his position to coerce a property owner into selling her home to him for less than half of its value.

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