FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – NewsChannel 15 discovered a complaint has been filed with the Allen County Ethics Commission against Sheriff Ken Fries and Allen County Councilman Paul Moss. The complaint claims the two violated a conflict of interest clause when Moss called Fries after being pulled over June 2 .
The complaint, filed by Philip Pease, claims the ethics code was broken when Sheriff Fries “interacted with the Sheriff Officers on scene, which was unnecessary and unwarranted.”
“Regardless of what was said or what was transacted, the end result was that there was a conversation that created an ethically compromised situation,” Pease said.
NewsChannel 15 called Fries Wednesday morning. Fries said he was not aware of the complaint and had no comment. NewsChannel 15 offered to bring him a copy of it and he again declined to see it or comment.
Calls to Moss weren’t answered or returned Wednesday.
“Based on the facts of the matter, it really does merit additional scrutiny within the framework of the ordinance. If that scrutiny doesn’t yield anything so be it, but if it does, then I would expect the ordinance to be followed and the appropriate parties get involved,” Pease said.
The commission meets quarterly and its next meeting is July 20 at 1:30 p.m. Attorney Tom Hardin, a member of the ethics commission, said the complaint will be discussed then.
Hardin and Wendy Stein, another of the the three-member board, said they would both review the complaint on their one to be ready to discuss it at that meeting. Retired circuit court judge Thomas Ryan wasn’t able to be reached Wednesday.
According to the ethics code , if the commission finds there is a possible violation, hearings can be held for further investigation. The commission can then recommend sanctions ranging from a warning letter to termination.
Pease simply wants the situation to be looked at more closely. He worked at an IT employee for the county from 2006 to 2009 and had indirectly worked with both Fries and Moss. But, Pease said the complaint is not personal or political. It’s just about right and wrong.
“If we don’t question this at a deeper level, there’s sort of a tacit implication that this type of behavior is okay throughout the organization,” he said. “A broader concern is what kind of unintended consequences does this type of situation have. Are council members wondering should I or should I not approve what the sheriff just asked for because of how it’s going to look? It’s that kind of taint that could come into the whole process and that’s sort of the whole purpose of the ethics ordinance, to make sure those things don’t happen.”
According to a Fort Wayne police department report, the FWPD officer who was supposed to help administer an OWI test on Moss on June 2 was told Sheriff Fries had issued an order to disregard the call.
Councilman Moss issued this statement earlier this month: “I take my roles as father and county councilman very seriously. I was providing a safe ride home for my daughter and her friends that morning. I willingly agreed to take the more reliable test at the Meeks Center. While waiting to do this, I did make a call to find out what was taking so long and if there was a way to expedite the process. I have tremendous faith in our law enforcement officers. If I had broken the law, they would have done their job.”
Also earlier this month, Fries left this message at NewsChannel 15: “I’m really not interested in talking about a non-story. Somebody calls me who is not drunk and they didn’t get arrested. The Journal-Gazette and the Fort Wayne Police Department apparently… I’m just not interested in talking about it anymore. Thanks.”