By Kevin Hogencamp
In violation of city policy, inconsistent with earlier personnel decisions and without explanation, Albany City Manager Alfred Lott has upheld the firing of airport maintenance supervisor Sean Reddish.
Reddish is under indictment on theft charges for cashing in on $1,100 of scrap metal at the airport. City policy requires that an employee under felony indictment to be suspended without pay pending the outcome of the criminal case.
Reddish’s criminal case has not been resolved; he maintains his innocence. Yet, airport Director Yvette Aehle fired Reddish, who appealed the decision.
Lott wrote in a Nov. 12 letters to Reddish’s attorney, Phil Cannon, after Reddish’s appeal hearing:
“I have reviewed all documents presented in Ms. Aehle’s termination recommendation and studied all documents and issues presented at the name clearing/appeal hearing of your client. Accordingly, I have decided to sustain Ms. Aehle’s termination recommendation. As a result, your client Sean C. Reddish’s employment with the City of Albany, Georgia is terminated, immediately. I wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors.”
In addition to violating personnel policy, Lott did not follow protocol by citing the reason Reddish was fired.
In at least three recent cases, the city did not fire employees under felony indictment. Those employees are:
Police Cpl. Vincent Romone Wadley, accused of child molestation. He was fired after being convicted by a jury.
Fire Lt. Joey Paint, accused of child molestation and, later, theft. A jury found him innocent of child molestation, and he pleaded no contest to theft as a first-offender. He was fired after his criminal case was resolved, but a judge ordered that he be reinstated.
Assistant Fire Chief Roderick Jolivette, accused of impersonating a police officer. The charge was dropped and Jolivette remains on the job.
“I have tested my intended course of action with our personnel lawyers and Nathan,” Lott said last year. “Since Jolivette professes his innocence and has not made any admissions, I must treat this matter as innocent until proven guilty until there is an admission of guilt or verdict. This case could end up dismissed, Nolle prosequi, a guilty verdict or a not guilty verdict. Therefore, I must wait for the results before taking any further disciplinary actions.”
In another case, airport deputy director Kevin Harper was fired while he was under indictment. Lott said he made that decision, despite the personnel policy, because Harper admitted to Lott that he was guilty of the crime.
City policy states: “An employee who is arrested and charged with a felony may be suspended with pay by a general supervisor or above. However, suspension with pay is not mandatory if the employee is still able to perform the requirements of the job description. Upon review of the charges by a third party demonstrating guilt or an indictment by a grand jury, the employee will be suspended without pay. Such suspension will remain until the employee is exonerated or found not guilty.”
Reddish denies the theft charges and has produced a letter from a contractor stating that the contractor gave him the metal – old signage that had been replaced. Lott refuses to answer questions about the case, including whether he directed Aehle to violate policy and fire Reddish.
Upon Reddish’s arrest, Aehle maintained that Reddish didn’t break the law, but rather used bad judgment. Indeed, Aehle previously allowed Reddish and others bring a smaller amount of scrap metal to a recycling center to raise money for employee activities such as pizza parties, but Aehle and Reddish said that the employees never took Aehle up on her offer.
Reddish, who has a spotless personnel record and a favorable performance appraisal on file, had been suspended with pay until his indictment.
It’s not the only instance in which Reddish is being treated differently than other employees who have had run-ins with the law. It’s also contrary to the decision Lott made to keep Jolivette on the job following his indictment last year.
Public records also show that unlike in Reddish’s case, when a city Community and Economic Development employee forged federal weatherization documents, Lott kept the matter secret. Indeed, Lott withheld the forgeries from the federal government — the victim of Fletcher’s alleged transgressions — and asked for and received Fletcher’s resignation.
In quashing a potential investigation of Fletcher, Lott decided against the recommendation of City Attorney Nathan Davis that Fletcher be terminated because she defrauded the federal government.