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Head of Erie County Department of Social Services resigns suddenly

Posted at 3:57 PM, Dec 28, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-28 23:20:26-05

The Commissioner of Erie County’s Department of Social Services has suddenly resigned, effective today, according to an Erie County official.

The spokesperson for the county tells 7 Eyewitness News that Al Dirschberger resigned from his post for personal reasons.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz held a press conference on Thursday to address the resignation.

According to Poloncarz, he requested the resignation from Dirschberger after being made aware of an "alleged serious incident" involving the former commissioner and a subordinate employee during a business trip in Albany in early December.

According to a spokesperson for the Albany County District Attorney's Office, an investigation has been opened against Dirschberger:

"We are aware of the allegations against Al Dirschberger and an investigation is open and pending at this time. As there have been no arrests in relation to this matter, no further comments are presently available. As always, all parties are presumed innocent until and unless convicted."

During the press conference, the County Executive stated that he learned from the Albany Police Department that Dirschberger was a person of interest in a criminal investigation, but no charges had been filed.

A statement sent to 7 Eyewitness News from the spokesperson for the APD states:

"Mr. Dirschberger has not been charged or arrested by the Albany Police Department. If and when we’re able to comment on any investigations that may involve Mr. Dirschberger we will do so."

Poloncarz says an internal investigation was conducted and the information determined that Dirschberger had "clearly violated multiple County Personnel policies."

"My administration demands the highest standards from all Erie County employees, including all of our appointed leadership. I remain disappointed and angered about the alleged incident. I had no choice but to request Mr. Dirschberger’s resignation from this important position in county government," said the County Executive.

Marie Cannon, who currently serves as First Deputy of the Social Services Department, will be serving as Acting Commissioner until a permanent replacement is found. Officials say a search for Dirschberger’s replacement will begin in early 2018.