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MOUNT WASHINGTON — The questions still seem to outweigh the answers in the Mount Washington Fire Protection District Board’s hearing of accused Mount Washington Fire Chief Michael Dooley.
Dooley is charged by the board for poorly supervising and mismanaging funds in the department’s fire board Crusade committee and firemen’s fund accounts.
Dooley was also recently indicted in Bullitt Circuit Court on misdemeanor charges of second-degree official misconduct.
He is not charged criminally or by the fire board with stealing any funds.
The hearing — which will ultimately determine Dooley‘s future with the department — was in its second lengthy session Thursday evening.
Before testimony began, Dooley’s attorney Ken McCardwell renewed his motion from the hearing’s last session requesting that board chair Melvin Davis and board members Gary Lawson, John Jarrett and Darrell Vires recuse themselves because of conflicts of interest within the department and testify on the record for the case.
When the four again refused to do so, McCardwell requested that each explain their refusals.
Davis explained that because the board members were serving as the jury, they didn’t feel it appropriate to remove themselves to testify.
Board attorney Jason McGregor said board members were under no legal obligation to explain their decision.
“I don’t think the board has to do that...” McGregor advised.
After McCardwell’s repeated requests and denials that the four would testify, he called Mount Washington Police Det. Buddy Stump as a witness.
Stump conducted the criminal investigation surrounding Dooley and Mount Washington Fire Capt. Anthony Judd, who was indicted on charges of theft by unlawful taking over $300 and second-degree forgery. Judd was dismissed from the department in October.
McCardwell objected several times to Stump’s testimony because of his referral to his criminal investigation file.
McCardwell claimed he had requested a copy of Stump’s file but had not been provided it, and therefore was hearing much of the information for the first time.
Davis sustained the objection and said McCardwell should be provided with a copy of Stump’s investigation materials.
Because of the ruling, Stump answered questions without referring to his file for the duration of the session.
Stump testified that his investigation of the accusations against Dooley and Judd began around the first of September after being approached by Davis with what appeared to be a discrepancy in one of the department’s US Bank statements.
“It was a Crusade (for Children) account and he couldn’t understand why there would be withdrawals from that account,” Stump said.
He continued by saying that Judd was implicated in the case because he couldn’t properly explain several cash withdrawals that he had made from the Crusade account.
Stump testified that Judd admitted to forging checks with Dooley’s name to several local banks and businesses.
“(Dooley’s) name had been forged and even spelled wrong on some of the checks,” Stump said.
He added that he found no evidence that incriminated Dooley of stealing money.
Stump testified that Dooley had given Judd permission previously to sign his name to checks, but said those were legitimate transactions and were no part of the funds in question.
“He had no knowledge of the forged checks being written to Pearl’s (Food Mart) for cash,” Stump said.
McGregor questioned how Dooley handled bank statements involving the Crusade Committee Account. Stump testified that Dooley would pass the statements on to Judd without opening them.
“He said he didn’t even open them. (Dooley said that Judd) takes care of all the banking,” Stump said.
McGregor also questioned Stump about a possible conflict of interest with the department, of which his son had applied for a job with the fire department and not received it. McGregor asked if that affected his criminal investigation of Dooley or Judd.
Stump said he was offended by the accusation.
“I almost consider that an insult to my personal integrity but I’ll answer it. No, it did not,” he said.
McCardwell objected several times to Stump’s testimony because he claimed that he and his client were at a disadvantage because they had not seen the investigation file.
But Davis overruled.
“He’s testifying from his mind right now, everything around him is closed for the record,” McGregor said.
McCardwell continued to convey his dissaproval of Stump’s testimony.
“I don’t even have his investigation materials... I might as well be a potted plant sitting here,” McCardwell said of hearing the information for the first time.
Stump’s testimony was cut short when the board recessed to allow the council to make copies of Stump’s investigation file.
After returning from the recess and a brief executive session, the board announced it would reconvene Dec. 11 in order to give McCardwell time to review Stump’s file.
Although McGregor estimated the Dec. 11 date might be the end of the hearing, the two attorneys indicated that there were still seven witnesses to be called, starting with McCardwell’s cross examination of Stump.
The hearing will continue Dec. 11 at 7 p.m. at the Mount Washington Fire Protection District’s Station 1 on Old Bardstown Road.