Hearings on the dismissal for two police officers set to take place Monday, six months after they were recommended for discharge but kept on the payroll, did not occur.
Officer Brian Nagra, who has gained another 10 years of pension benefits while remaining on the payroll, resigned three days before the scheduled hearing and will avoid a termination hearing.
Whether the hearing would have occurred anyway is doubtful because the city has yet to file charges against Nagra and officer Lionel Allen, both of whom were recommended for discharge in January.
Allen’s hearing was postponed at least a month, and it may be longer since his attorney said he has yet to see charges.
“We were advised on Friday that this hearing would be today,” attorney Jeffrey Burke, representing Allen, told the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners at what was to be a hearing for the two officers. “We don’t believe actual charges have been filed.”
Burke’s revelation that no charges have been filed raises more questions in a case that has had city and police officials at odds over the handling of the recommended firing of the two officers.
Police Chief Al Roechner and Deputy Chief John Perona told the fire and police board in March that they were surprised at that time that no hearing had yet been held after they filed what they believed to be the necessary paperwork to start a 30-day calendar to bring the cases to hearings.
Roechner at the time also expressed frustration that the two officers stayed on the payroll.
Assistant City Attorney Chris Regis said then and has repeated since that he had the authority to decide when to bring the charges. Regis said he needed to give the officers’ attorney time to prepare their cases.
But after the Monday meeting, Regis said it was the chief’s duty and not his to file charges, referring to union contract language.
Asked why hearings were not held after the police department filed paperwork for dismissal of the two officers in January, Regis said, “They filed documents. They didn’t file formal charges.”
Regis said he did not speak with Roechner to clarify what was needed to be done to initiate charges.
Roechner, meanwhile, said he believed he did what was needed in January shortly after dismissing the officers from duty.
“Nobody from the city talked to me about it,” Roechner said. “We turned in all the paperwork two days afterward.”
Mayor Bob O'Dekirk came to the next meeting of the commission in April, when he accused Roechner of "bullying" the board.
While the cases have been pending, Nagra reached his 20-year anniversary with the police department June 17. The anniversary qualifies Nagra to begin collecting a pension worth more than $50,000 a year at age 50 instead of waiting until he turns 60.
Nagra, 42, and Allen also continued to collect on their annual pay of $106,670.
The charges against the two officers have yet to be made public, but sources have said Nagra was accused of manipulating payroll records to boost his income.
No charges will be brought against Nagra now that he has resigned.
“Nagra is no longer a city employee so that hearing has been rendered moot,” Regis told them.
Board member Todd Wooten asked when the board would see the charges against Allen.
“We’re talking about somebody’s career,” he told Regis. “I’d like a chance to review the information.”