Investigation into Marion Police has cost taxpayers nearly $14,000

The Marion Police Department on Wednesday.  Police leaders have met and worked on future police...
The Marion Police Department on Wednesday. Police leaders have met and worked on future police strategies the last two days.(KCRG)
Published: Jun. 4, 2019 at 5:50 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

The City of Marion has paid thousands of dollars to an outside attorney but so far city leaders are not saying why.

The news of just how much taxpayers have been forced to pay follows the recent resignations of two of Marion's top cops.

Police Chief Joseph McHale announced his resignation in April. His last day on the job was Monday. Deputy Chief Doug Slagle has also resigned effective July 5th. Both resignations came after the I9 investigative team learned that Marion had hired an outside attorney to look into the police department.

Former Police Chief Joseph McHale has been adamant that any internal investigation did not influence his decision to leave Marion Police for a job in Florida and Deputy Chief Doug Slalge told I9 his decision to leave was for personal reasons.

Those who resigned and the City have refused to comment on the investigation at hand but I9 has learned from invoices obtained through an Iowa Open Records Request, that attorney Fran Haas, who specializes in Title IX investigations involving discrimination and harassment, has been paid $13,882 for her work so far by taxpayers.

When I9 sat down with Marion's City Manager Lon Pluckhahn to discuss the internal investigation last month he would not talk about how much taxpayers have foot the bill so far to pay for it.

"We would never release the results of any personnel investigation that would be against the advice of counsel," said Pluckhahn.

The scope of the investigation, its status, and what work Haas did to rack up the bill, the City is continuing to hide from the public. Any notes that showed a description of the services that were provided by Haas were blacked out.

Those redactions however can be easily seen through. What is behind the black bars reveals the investigation was completed on April 24th, two days before McHale emailed department staff his intention to resign. Slalge would put in his resignation days later in early May.

The invoice also shows explicitly that the investigation looked into an "internal complaint" about unfair treatment, internal affair records and personnel files "from Police Administration" for two witnesses were also reviewed.

16 witnesses were interviewed in all.

Records show that since 2016, the Marion Police Department has only documented a single case of sexual harassment, which was noted sometime between January 1st and April 19th of this year.

Pluckhahn says elected officials have been intentionally kept in that dark about any internal personnel investigation.

I9 reached out to Mayor Nicholas AbouAssaly and every member of the city council to explain how they could approve a nearly $14,000 bill for something they know nothing about. The only council member to respond was Steve Jensen but he declined to answer.

I9 also reached out to Pluckhahn and the attorney for the city who sent us our records about what we uncovered but they are still yet to send us a statement.