The city's former police chief says Alpine violated terms of a resignation agreement it negotiated with him and he wants the city to either reinstate him or pay him $1.5 million.
George E. Brown Jr., an attorney representing former police chief Brent Leseberg, told Mayor Elaine Barnes and members of the City Council Tuesday night that if the city does not comply with one or the other of the two demands within 30 days, Leseberg will file suit against Alpine for "damages to him as a result of the city's breach of contract."Brown read a prepared statement on behalf of Leseberg during the council's regular meeting. Brown said the city agreed in a resolution passed Nov. 27 to give Leseberg the original copy of a tape recording of allegations of improper behavior involving Leseberg, and to destroy or give to Leseberg other transcripts and copies of the tape.
However, copies of the tape were leaked to the media, Brown said.
The resolution also prohibited any "city official, appointed official, employee or agent" from commenting on allegations surrounding Leseberg's termination, the tape or any other aspect of the matter except as required by law or discussing the council's public statement of support for Leseberg.
Brown said attorney Lynn J. Lund, who represented Alpine in negotiations with Leseberg, violated this aspect of the resolution in statements he made to the news media.
"The release of the tape and the public statements made by agents of Alpine City have caused substantial and irreparable damage to Brent Leseberg," Brown said.
"Moreover, representatives of Alpine City have stated that Brent Leseberg released the tape recording to the media," Brown said. "This is not true."
Barnes and council members did not comment on the statement read by Brown during the meeting. But after the meeting Barnes said the city has not breached its contract with Leseberg "because we didn't give the tape out." All city employees deny releasing copies of the tape, Barnes said.
On the tape, Lynn Fautin, a police officer with Alpine City, tells another Alpine officer about an incident involving Leseberg that occurred last March. Fautin was apparently unaware the conversation was being recorded.
The tape was apparently made several days after the incident, Barnes said. However, she did not receive a copy of the tape or learn of the incident described on it until Oct. 26.
Barnes fired Leseberg on Oct. 31 because of low morale in the Police Department, lack of accountability to the City Council, poor judgment on Leseberg's part and other problems. Leseberg was later allowed to resign under the terms of the resolution passed by the city on Nov. 27.
In mid-December Alpine paid Leseberg about $10,000 for three months' severance pay and owed compensation and vacation time, Barnes said.
"Now he sues the city after he has all this money," she said. "He's suing his own neighbors, his friends that are supporting him?"
Barnes said the city believes Leseberg breached the agreement between the city and him "early on" through involvement with a petition to reinstate him and recall the mayor. The city decided to proceed with terms of the agreement because "we were trying in our very best effort to get it over with and let him get on with his life," Barnes said.
Barnes said she will turn the matter over to Lund.
What Leseberg seeks
Brent Leseberg says city has 30 days to do one of following:
- Reinstate Brent Leseberg as police chief with a contract that will expire the month following the term of the current mayor and that will contain the provision that Leseberg can only be terminated from his position for "just cause, which definition of cause must be satisfactory to Brent Leseberg."
- Pay Leseberg $1.5 million as compensation for damages in the matter without further proceedings.
If Alpine does not comply with one of the two demands within 30 days, Leseberg will file suit against the city for damages resulting from a breach of contract.