Aberdeen petition seeks chief's ouster His punishment is called too lenient HARFORD COUNTY

August 04, 1993|By Aminah Franklin | Aminah Franklin,Staff Writer

A group of Aberdeen citizens began collecting signatures yesterday on a petition calling for the removal of Police Chief John R. Jolley, accused of illegally voiding dozens of tickets and misappropriating money in a discretionary fund.

Up to 40 people were expected to go door to door starting at 7 p.m., said Nancy Riley, the spokeswoman for a coalition of citizens who think Chief Jolley's punishment for official misconduct -- a five-day suspension, forfeiture of pay for 10 days' work and forfeiture of his next scheduled pay raise -- was too lenient. "We do not feel that this is enough of a punishment considering the severity of what the chief did," Ms. Riley said.

But Chief Jolley, who has refrained from public comment until recently, said that Ms. Riley, with whom he had a dispute about a year ago, is acting for personal reasons that he refused to divulge.

Yesterday he maintained that he is innocent and criticized Ms. Riley and other citizens who have spoken out against him for judging him unfairly, saying that no jury found him guilty of any wrongdoing.

"I have not been charged, I have not been indicted and, as far as I know, according to the Bill of Rights, there is a presumption of innocence until proven guilty," he said.

According to state prosecutor Stephen R. Montanarelli, who issued a report July 2 after a five-month investigation, Chief Jolley did engage in official misconduct, including voiding dozens of traffic and parking tickets, two "as personal favors to employees of his department," and misappropriating money in a relief fund under his control.

Mr. Montanarelli found that the chief wrote three checks totaling $150 against the fund to pay personal credit card bills, which Chief Jolley said was reimbursement for a cash loan he had made to another officer. An additional $2,500 missing from the fund has not been accounted for.

Criminal charges were not filed, Mr. Montanarelli said, because it could not be proven that the chief benefited personally from any improprieties and because the amount of money involved was so small.

Chief Jolley said he is not surprised that Ms. Riley is a part of the

petition drive, saying that she "just doesn't care for me."

He added he is suspicious of her motives since she was Mayor Ruth Elliott's 1992 campaign manager and is an outspoken supporter of the mayor, who failed in a July bid to oust him from his job.

But Ms. Riley said that she is only one of many concerned Aberdeen citizens who want the chief removed.

"Wrong was done and something has got to be done," she said. "When you are in a position where your utmost duty is to uphold the law, you must be above reproach, and Chief Jolley has proven that's not the case."

City Administrator Peter Dacey said that news of the disgruntled citizens' petition has had no effect on the punishment he has already meted out.

"I have made my decision and I stand by my decision," he said. "I think, after looking at the facts surrounding the issue, it was a fair decision."

Mr. Dacey said the petition will most likely be evaluated by the council, but he said that the council is not obligated to take action in light of the results.

He added that any dissatisfied residents can voice their opinions in next year's election.

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