SHEFFIELD — City prosecutor Ben Gardner Jr. said he has no plans to step aside from presenting evidence against terminated Sheffield Police Chief Greg Ray during his appeal hearing later this month.
Ray’s attorneys, Tony Hughes and James Irby, filed a motion last week with the city’s Civil Service Board asking that Gardner remove himself from the case, citing a conflict of interest.
“We filed the motion based on the fact that Chief Ray feels that he and (Gardner) have an attorney-client relationship (from his time with the Police Department),” Hughes said.
Gardner said his relationship with the former chief was in an advisory capacity.
“I wasn’t his personal attorney,” Gardner said.
Hughes said his client reported that Gardner represented him several times when he served as chief. Ray signed an affidavit stating that Gardner is his attorney as chief of police in Sheffield.
“Gardner gave him legal advice that he acted on over the years,” Hughes said. “We believe it is a conflict of interest and that (Gardner) should step aside.”
Gardner said his advice was strictly work related, not personal.
“I don’t see there is any conflict of interest,” he said.
Hughes said a motion was filed Wednesday asking for the Civil Service Board to hold a hearing to rule on this and other motions filed in the case.
Ray’s appeal hearing was scheduled to be held Thursday. However, the Civil Service Board postponed rescheduled it tentatively for Jan. 31.
Ray, 54, was terminated Oct. 26 after being given a choice of resigning or facing termination, according to Sheffield Mayor Ian Sanford. Among the performance issues cited was Ray’s failure to address concerns brought up by the mayor and council members.
Ray is on leave with pay, pending the appeal.
Ray has worked in the department since 1992 and served as chief since 2007.
Sheffield Fire Chief Dewey King is serving as interim police chief.
Tom Smith can be reached at 256-740-5757 or tom.smith@TimesDaily.com.