Morgan County Deputy Sheriff Dan Schofield has told Sheriff Bert Hol-brook he won't accept the sheriff's decision to begin termination proceedings against him.
"We're just sitting here wondering what's going on," said Loren E. Weiss, Schofield's Salt Lake attorney. "It's getting more and more bizarre."Schofield, who's been a deputy sheriff in Morgan for more than a year, was told Feb. 15 he'd been put on paid suspension pending the outcome of termination proceedings.
The deputy said Holbrook told him he had received information from a resident he did not identify that gave him reason to believe the deputy falsified daily logs, biweekly time sheets and overtime slips.
Schofield said the dispute with the sheriff involves a request for long-overdue overtime pay he earned between February and March of 1988. He said the sheriff told him the resident's complaint indicated the deputy's request contained discrepancies.
However, Schofield said the discrepancies Hol-brook pointed out involve only two or three of the 83 hours of overtime and holiday pay he requested in a Jan. 30 interoffice memo to the sheriff.
He said the discrepancies are legitimate errors and he doesn't understand the rationale behind the sheriff's action.
"We're having difficulty finding the logic to it all," said Weiss. "In the grand scheme of things, to say they (Holbrook's allegations) are minor really overstates them. Obviously, his (Holbrook's) motives are other than they may appear."
Schofield is among current and former Morgan County deputies who have recently been questioned by investigators for Utah Attorney General Paul Van Dam as his office proceeds with a preliminary investigation of possible wrongdoing by Holbrook.
In addition, Loni DeLand, the attorney representing Salt Lake businessman Richard G. Hocks in a pending suit that says Holbrook and other Morgan County officials are responsible for civil rights violations, said Schofield will be among deputies called to give depositions as that suit develops.
In a letter to Holbrook dated Feb. 21, Schofield and Weiss asked the sheriff to examine his motives in beginning the termination proceedings.
They also contend Holbrook's move to terminate Schofield was initiated without due process, saying he failed to tell Schofield that the Feb. 15 meeting between the two of them to discuss the deputy's request for overtime pay would be a pre-termination hearing.
When he went to the meeting, Schofield said he was met by Holbrook, two other deputies and Morgan County Clerk Janis Widdison.
He said Widdison turned on a tape recorder, the sheriff read him his rights from a card and he was informed for the first time that the meeting was a pretermination hearing.
Schofield said the sheriff offered to read him a portion of the evidence he had against him, but the deputy refused until he was able to have an attorney present. Holbrook then told Schofield to surrender all his equipment.
The next day, a transcript of the hearing was served to Schofield at his home by Deputy Jarvis Whitaker.
Schofield said he has heard nothing from the sheriff since he sent him the Feb. 21 letter indicating he will fight the termination proceedings.
Holbrook could not be reached for comment, but his attorney, Fred L. Wasilewski, said he does not believe the sheriff's decision to begin termination proceedings was initiated improperly.
He said Schofield has the right to go through the appeals process as formulated by Morgan County.
Wasilewski said he believes Lynn Lund, a second attorney for Holbrook, will be meeting with Schofield's attorney soon to decide how the proceedings will progress.
Jeff London, chairman of the Morgan County Commission, said there are things going on in the county he'd rather not comment on.
"Really, all I would want to say is that Schofield is still on the county's payroll," London said. "As far as we're concerned, he's still a county employee."