Aberdeen mayor criticizes chief's 5-day suspension as too lenient HARFORD COUNTY

July 22, 1993|By Aminah Franklin | Aminah Franklin,Staff Writer

Aberdeen's mayor and police union criticized as "a slap on the wrist" a decision to suspend Police Chief John R. Jolley for allegedly misappropriating money in a discretionary fund and voiding dozens of tickets.

City Administrator Peter Dacey announced Tuesday that Chief Jolley will be suspended five days, forfeit pay for 10 days' work and be denied his next scheduled pay raise.

The announcement came a week after the City Council voted 4-1 to reject Mayor Ruth Elliott's bid to oust the chief, and left to Mr. Dacey the decision on action against him.

Yesterday, the mayor said that Mr. Dacey's move sends the wrong message.

"If another city employee chooses to act inappropriately, our hands are tied because of what's happening with Chief Jolley and the fact he's getting off with a slap on the wrist," she said. "We have a department head that has not acted in the best interests of the city, and he's still on the payroll."

A spokesman for the Aberdeen Police Officers Union agreed.

"The disciplinary action taken dictates a dual standard for the town between department heads and city employees," said the spokesman, Kenneth Cox. "If it was a police officer we were talking about, the police officer would have been dismissed."

In a July 2 report, State Prosecutor Stephen Montanarelli said the chief voided dozens of parking and traffic tickets in violation of state law and wrote checks totaling $150 against a discretionary fund under his control to pay personal credit card bills. An additional $2,500 known to have been deposited in the fund cannot be accounted for.

The report also says that over a three-year period ending in January 1993, 20 checks made payable to cash were written against the fund, including one to pay $100 for tickets to a political fund-raiser for Joseph I. Cassilly, the Harford County state's attorney.

Mr. Montanarelli said he will not seek criminal charges against Chief Jolley because the chief didn't personally profit from the improprieties and because "the amount of money was so small."

In a statement, Chief Jolley said he believed that voiding traffic tickets was within his authority.

Chief Jolley said he never used money in the relief fund for "any personal gain or profit" and that "the financial decisions I made regarding this account were intended, when made, to be in the best interests of the department."

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