Ethics Commission initiates investigation into Moss traffic stop

Allen County Sheriff Ken Fries and Allen County Councilman Paul Moss
Allen County Sheriff Ken Fries and Allen County Councilman Paul Moss

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) The Allen County Ethics Commission has initiated an investigation into Sheriff Ken Fries, County Councilman Paul Moss, and the officers who responded to the controversial traffic stop on June 2.

Councilman Moss was pulled over on that June weekend for suspected drunk driving. During the course of the stop, he called Sheriff Fries.

On June 18, an Ethics complaint was filed against Sheriff Fries and Councilman Moss that the claimed the ethics code was broken when Sheriff Fries “interacted with the Sheriff Officers on scene, which was unnecessary and unwarranted.”

Click here to read the complaint summary.

The Ethics commission met on Friday, July 20 to discuss the allegations in the complaint. The commission ended that meeting asking for Fries and Moss each to send a written response to the allegations within 30 days of Friday, July 20.

A public hearing during which the allegations and the responses were to be reviewed was initially scheduled for Friday, Sept. 7 but was rescheduled multiple times in order to ensure the presence of all involved parties.

The hearing was held on Monday Sept. 17. At 1:30 p.m. Some members of the commission weren’t satisfied with Sheriff’s Fries’ written response.

Among the questions the Ethics Commission wanted answered were whether or not the Sheriff and the Councilman considered themselves employees of the county and if, in the case of the Sheriff, the Sheriff’s Department had its own code of ethics.

From what NewsChannel 15 was told at the meeting, Sheriff Fries failed to address either of these questions. Moss claimed he was not an employee of the county.

The commission asserted that Sheriff Fries and Councilman Moss were in fact employees of the county and, barring a code of ethics that superseded the county’s, they would need to abide by the county’s ordinance.

Fries’ attorney, Don Swanson, said they will respond to the Ethics Commission’s concern about employment. “We will take another look at that and if that’s going to be an issue with the commission we certainly want to respond appropriately with that, but not to my knowledge that he is isn’t as far as I know.”

The commission is also still trying to determine if a favor was given to Moss when he called the Sheriff during the traffic stop.

NewChannel 15′s Megan Reust asked Moss’ attorney if asking to expedite the process on June 2 was a favor.

“Well, every citizen of this community needs to be able to call on their government to do a better job and do it faster and be more responsive,” said Tim Pape, Attorney for Councilman Moss. “No, I don’t think that qualifies in any sense under the Ethics Commission.  And if it does we’re in trouble in terms of what it takes to satisfy that ethics ordinance and serve the public.”

The ethics commission plans on asking the three responding officers questions about what happened the evening of the traffic stop.

They will mail the officers questions in a week.

The commission is scheduled to meet again on Monday, Oct. 29.

Note: The letters Sheriff Fries and Councilman Moss sent to the commission are currently confidential. What we know of their contents is based on the discussion at the hearing.

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