Tuesday, September 18, 2012
UPDATE: Quartzsite Police Chief Jeff Gilbert NOT fired, as earlier reported
By Shanana Rain Golden-Bear
Tuesday, September 11th, the Town of Quartzsite Common Council held their regular meeting at 9am. Just as Council Member Patricia Anderson pounded the gavel, Asst. Town Manager contacted Chief of Police Jeff Gilbert notifying Gilbert he was fired. A press release, which was not authorized by Acting Town Manager Terry Frausto, was issued at 8:50am, before Gilbert had been notified.
Council members obviously had no knowledge of the action taken by Johnson until after the meeting was adjourned. Sparks began to fly after the meeting, when council members and Frausto were notified that their Chief of Police had been fired without their knowledge.
The press release posted on the town’s website (and also on this blog) included the three-page letter of termination signed by Johnson. Gilbert, who was on vacation with his wife, only discovered the letter was posted online when a member of the press later called him for an interview.
During Wednesday’s Special Meeting, Quartzsite Town Council appointed Laura Bruno as Interim Town Manager. Frausto returned to her position as Town Clerk, and Brannan walked out of the meeting shortly after Bruno’s appointment, saying “I’m fired!”
In Friday’s Press Conference, Bruno announced Gilbert was NOT fired, however Johnson had been placed on paid administrative leave. She said the termination letter was “inappropriate and unauthorized.” Johnson joins Town Manager Alex Taft and Gilbert, who are all on paid administrative leave. Bruno said, at that time, Brannan was "in employed status".
The scathing termination letter accused Gilbert of Gross Negligence/Willful Misconduct and Insubordination. The letter also referred to the DPS investigation dated July 13 in which Attorney General’s Office refused to prosecute Gilbert, and only recently issued the Turn Down Statement and full 201-page DPS Report to the Desert Messenger.
Alleged charges were:
1) Unauthorized Access to Criminal History, ARS § 41-1756.
2) Influencing a Witness, ARS § 13-2802.
3) Tampering with a Public Document, ARS $ 13-2407(A)(2)
“Detective Peter White understands and agrees that there is insufficient evidence to prove the crimes beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Reasons for the AG’s turndown were:
1) No Reasonable Likelihood of Conviction.
2) Witness Credibility Problems.
3) Inadequate Evidence of Corroboration and
4) Inadequate Evidence of Intent.
As of press time, Quartzsite Police Chief Jeff Gilbert is still employed by the Town of Quartzsite and on Paid Administrative Leave.