Documents Detail Police, City Probes That Led To Firings, Resignations

By: Rachel Cox Email
By: Rachel Cox Email

KILLEEN (April 1, 2013) ---The City of Killeen has released documents detailing the police investigation and internal probe that led to the termination of two employees and immediate resignation of two others.

In December 2012, Killeen Finance Director Barbara Gonzales was fired and the city's director of fleet services, Kim Randall, resigned effective immediately as the result of the internal probe that also led to the firing of fleet services employee John Acker and the immediate resignation technician David Riddle.

The city didn't disclose the nature of the investigation or the findings at the time, but said in a press release it "involved all aspects of the operation of the fleet services division…(which) is responsible for the maintenance and repair of all city vehicles."

However the 169 pages of documents released in response to an Open Records Act request from KWTX detail a series of thefts and misuse of city equipment.

A 15-page police report shows that the investigation that produced the findings started in September 2012 after police received a tip from a fleet services employee who said he had noticed a motor sitting outside of a storage room, which he thought someone was planning to take.

(Check Out The Police Report)

The employee provided police with pictures and the motor’s serial number and on the same day a Killeen officer pulled over David Riddle and found the motor in the vehicle he was driving.

The report says the Riddle told the officer that Fleet Services Director Kim Randall had told him to "get rid of it” and said he needed the bottom half of the motor to rebuild the engine in one of his own vehicles.

The report says Randall later submitted a statement saying that she had talked to Riddle about whether the engine could be rebuilt.

Randall said Riddle owns a mechanic shop and that her intention was to verify if the motor could still be used, the report says

In October, police investigators interviewed all employees of fleet services.

A subsequent police Internal Affairs Unit report says the investigation uncovered allegations of the theft of a golf cart, fuel, tires, parts, and metal and the use of city tools for personal reasons.

The findings were submitted to the Bell County Attorney’s Office, which, according to a letter dated Oct. 12, declined to pursue criminal charges against Randall and Riddle because of insufficient evidence.

"While proper procedures for disposing of city property evidently were not followed, this on its own does not establish that the defendant, Kim Randall, intentionally stole the engine in question," the letter said.

And the fact that Randall gave Riddle permission to take the engine negates Riddle’s intent to steal from the city, the letter said.

Meanwhile, an internal audit by the city concluded that the Fleet Services Division was grossly mismanaged.

The audit says that the management of fleet services was handed over to the police department after the finance director was stripped of the responsibility.

"During the time of the audit and the pending police investigation concerning stolen items, employees returned many of the items that they had stolen," the audit says..

Since their terminations Gonzales and Acker have filed whistleblower lawsuits against the city and they are both appealing their firings.

Gonzales is set for a personnel hearing on April 24, and Acker is set for a hearing on May 7.

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