Judge Getting Paid Thousands To Investigate Administrative Leave - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Judge Getting Paid Thousands To Investigate Administrative Leave Case

KHQ'S KELSEY WATTS: I learned on Monday that the retired federal judge hired to investigate former Interim Police Chief Scott Stephens' administrative leave will be paid up to $10,000. He'll be back in town this week for a second day of interviews, then will submit a report to the city attorney.

The allegation is that Stephens was put on admin leave in December because he was upset about a demotion and threatened to go home and get his weapon. His lawyer says that allegation is absolutely false.

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SPOKANE, Wash. - Scott Stephens' attorney, Bob Dunn, told KHQ the circumstances surrounding Stephens' administrative leave go back to the hiring process for current Police Chief Frank Straub.

According to Dunn, Mayor Condon asked Stephens to step in to the role of Interim Chief, and said he would be considered for the permanent position.  However, he never got it.

"The rumor at the time that was swirling around Straub's appointment was that it was a preordained, done deal.  That the mayor had cut an inside deal with Straub and he was the Mayor's choice all along," Dunn told KHQ.

Spokane Mayor David Condon told KHQ that was absolutely not true, and that a number of panels supported Straub throughout the hiring process.

Dunn also said Stephens – and many others – were on a selection committee for police chief candidates, and that his client had voted ‘no confidence' for the final candidates – including Straub.  But now, Straub's his boss.

"We believe that from that point on, it was preordained that they were going to retaliate against Assistant Chief Scott Stephens and that's what they've done," Dunn added.

Dunn said he met with Mayor Condon as recently as Thursday in the ongoing discussions over possible severance packages for Scott Stephens' retirement.  He was demoted from Assistant Chief to Captain at the beginning of the investigation, and is now listed as a Lieutenant.  Dunn says Stephens is received pay at the Lieutenant level while he's on leave, which is a significant difference from Assistant Chief, when he was earning $155,806.56 annually.

Mayor Condon maintains that Stephens is being paid the rate of Assistant Chief.

Mayor Condon is bringing in retired Federal Judge Michael Hogan to investigate the circumstance surrounding Scott Stephens' administrative leave; in essence, he'll investigate the Internal Affairs Investigation that's already been completed within Spokane Police.  His name may sound familiar, as Hogan helped in the resolution of the Otto Zehm matter.  His contract has not been finalized yet, so it's not clear how much his services will cost taxpayers.

It's the first time in Mayor Condon's administration he's brought in an outside investigator for an Internal Affairs matter.  He called it the "most transparent, most effective" way to move forward in a transition process that has been "difficult."

"At the end of the day, the public should judge me, judge Chief Straub and his command staff, on do we have a safer community?" Mayor Condon added.  "At the end of the day, I want a safe community and as we go through this process we need to be fair to our employees, and balance that at the same time with the information needed for our citizens."

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SPOKANE, Wash – Former Spokane Police Interim Chief Scott Stephens was placed on administrative leave in late December because of a "false" report he was disappointed over his demotion, and had threatened workplace violence, saying he was "going to go home and come back with his weapon," Stephens' lawyer Bob Dunn told KHQ Tuesday.

However, Dunn says there's "not a sliver of truth" to that accusation.  He says Stephens did have a conversation with a friend acknowledging his disappointment, but that anything beyond that is simply untrue.

Dunn says that report was forwarded on to Police Chief Frank Straub and newly appointed Assistant Chief Craig Meidl. Dunn says Straub wanted Stephens out of the department from the very beginning, and that this false report is retaliation.

This story is developing right now; stay here with KHQ for updates throughout the day.

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