Fired Firefighters Appeal Dismissal, Question Probe

November 06, 1991|By Robert Lee | Robert Lee,Staff writer

Two Annapolis firefighters fired by the city for their alleged involvement in an on-duty sex scandal have appealed the action, calling the charges "unfounded" and questioning the way the case was investigated.

Samuel J. Brown, a lawyer representing Battalion Chief James M. Jones and Firefighter Robert T. Thomas, said he would be conductingan inquiry of his own into the fire department's internal investigation that led to the firing of his clients.

"I have questions about why the city brought these charges against (Jones and Thomas) knowing what I know about the investigation," Brown said.

Jones and Thomas, who are on paid suspension for the unspecified appeal period, will receive an administrative hearing beforeFire Chief Edward P. Sherlock Jr. at a later date to be negotiated between Brown and Sherlock.

Brown said his clients were found guilty by the investigators before getting a chance to defend themselves. He declined to discuss the case in further detail.

In a statement last Friday announcing the punishment of five firefighters and two police officers, Mayor Alfred A. Hopkins said the incidents involving the firefighters dated as far back as 1985.

The investigation, which was initiated and directed by Sherlock and Police Chief Harold Robbins, involved surveillance, in-depth interviews and sworn statements.

The probe uncovered "conclusive evidence" and led to immediate disciplinary action against two firefighters Oct. 18, Hopkins said.

Jones and Thomas received termination notices Nov. 1, along with a third lieutenant. Two members of the police force were also given 30-day suspensions -- one with a six-month demotion in rank -- on Nov. 1.

The battalion chief -- later identified as Jones -- was fired for knowing of the misconduct but failing in his supervisory role to prevent it, City Attorney Jonathan Hodgson said.

After reviewing and appealing their dismissals with the chief, the two firefighters have the right to appeal their case to the city's Civil Service Board, Hodgson said.

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