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Decision on ethics board postponed

Complaint in limbo until issue resolved

POSTED: November 4, 2012 12:32 a.m.

A complaint filed with the Forsyth County Ethics Board won’t be reviewed until the temporary state of the panel is resolved.

County commissioners again postponed a second hearing on changes to the ethics ordinance Thursday.

The commission proposed a plan in June to overhaul the current ethics board makeup of five appointed county residents by replacing it with a pool of on-call attorneys.

In the meantime, three of the five members have resigned or their terms expired, leaving the panel short of the required quorum to hear the recently submitted complaint.

The Oct. 19 complaint from county resident William Dunn names Michael Mahoney, an assistant district attorney, and refers to a plea deal reached in a case Oct. 4.

In that matter, Charles McElroy Turner of Lumpkin County had been indicted on two counts of impersonating a police officer and two counts of false imprisonment.

He pleaded guilty to two counts of disorderly conduct and received 24 months of probation, community service and a $1,000 fine, in addition to other conditions.

In his ethics complaint, Dunn contends “political pressure” on the district attorney’s office led to the plea with reduced charges.

He also maintains he was not properly notified about the matter in Forsyth County Superior Court.

Per county rules, the respondent must reply within 30 days and the ethics board must complete an investigatory review within 60 days.

In light of the pending complaint, County Attorney Ken Jarrard asked commissioners Thursday to be mindful of those deadlines.

Jarrard put out a reminder after the commission voted 5-0 to delay the second hearing on the changes.

“We’re getting very close to committing a procedural violation,” Jarrard said.

Commissioner Brian Tam again made the motion to postpone, initially requesting a new date of Dec. 6, but switched to Nov. 15 after learning of the pending complaint.

Tam did not state why he motioned to delay the hearing and could not be reached for comment Friday.

The commission received mostly favorable responses to the changes from those who spoke at the public hearing in September.

A second hearing and vote was delayed in October and also on Thursday.

The commission has possible reappointments of members on the agenda for its work session Tuesday.


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