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MW fire board votes to reinstate Dooley

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By Mallory Bilger

MOUNT WASHINGTON -- Applause erupted from friends and family of suspended fire chief Michael Dooley Thursday evening after the fire protection district's board of trustees reinstated Dooley to his full duties.

Board chair Melvin Davis broke a tie vote to reinstate Dooley to his position as chief, although it was unclear as to when Dooley would resume his job.

"I have given this a lot of thought," Davis said in an interview after the hearing. "I think he can overcome the problems he had in the past. Maybe (the board hasn't) given good direction. I just feel like he's worth salvaging."

Dooley was charged by the board with poorly supervising and mismanaging funds in the department’s fireman's fund and crusade accounts. The board's charges followed after Dooley was indicted in Bullitt Circuit Court on a misdemeanor charge of second-degree official misconduct.

Dooley's attorney, Ken McCardwell, requested that the trustees vote upon reinstating his client after the board rested its case Thursday evening.

Trustees Darrell Vires, Gary Lawson and John Jarrett voted against reinstating Dooley while Steve Kennedy, Terry Lewis and Gary Meredith voted for reinstating him.

Davis broke the tie.

"Based on evidence that we've heard . . . my vote would be to reinstate him," Davis said.

Testimony by Mount Washington Det. Buddy Stump -- who conducted the case's criminal investigation -- revealed that Dooley's charges stemmed from his failure to oversee spending from the two accounts. Stump testified that the investigation revealed that now dismissed fire Capt. Anthony Judd wrote many checks from the crusade and fireman's fund accounts for cash. Stump said that much of the money in question could not be traced.

Dooley was not charged with the theft of any funds.

Stump testified that many of the checks appeared to have been forged with Judd signing both his and Dooley's names to them.

Judd was indicted in Bullitt Circuit Court on charges of theft by unlawful taking over $300 and second-degree forgery.

Stump testified that during the investigation Dooley said he was not aware of the majority of Judd's alleged transactions. Stump also testified that Dooley delegated the duties of maintaining both the crusade and the fireman's fund accounts to Judd and did not regularly look at bank statements pertaining to those two accounts.

Neither Dooley nor McCardwell would comment in depth on the case, citing the pending criminal suit against Dooley.

However, McCardwell said he was glad that his client received his job back.

Davis said although he knew some trustees disagreed with him, he felt he did what was best for the fire district as a whole.

"I feel like (Dooley) did some things wrong but I don't think it's all his fault that the district lost money," Davis said.

Lawson said he felt like many of the allegations against Dooley must have been true.

"If I didn't I wouldn't have voted the way I did," Lawson said.

Check Monday's edition of The Pioneer News for the full story.