published Monday, July 8th, 2013

Rainsville officials mum on chief's lawsuit

Rainsville, Ala., city officials are mum on a notice sent out in late June warning that the police chief was going to sue his boss, Mayor Nick Jones.

Police Chief Charles Centers and his investigator Stephen Dutton are threatening to file an age discrimination lawsuit claiming the mayor interfered with their police investigations.

The notice sent to the city alleges that Jones: created a hostile work environment, illegally surpassed the powers of the police chief and officers and illegally diminished the police chief and officers' power.

But neither Centers or his attorney will talk about the notice.

City Council members say they have been advised by the city attorney to keep quiet. But Councilman Joseph Graham said council members are trying to figure out how to resolve the claim before it goes to court.

"We will explore all options and all possible avenues to resolve this," he said last week.

Jones, who beat incumbent Mayor Bejan Taheri in a run-off election last August, wasn't in the office and couldn't be reached by email. Since his election, he has been trying to implement changes in the Northeast Alabama city.

In May, Jones and the council discussed changing the way city departments were overseen and talked about positioning two councilman to oversee each department.

In both Centers and Dutton's notice sent to the city on June 21, officers cite the Alabama Age Discrimination In Employment Act and allege the discrimination started in December 2012 and continued on an ongoing basis.

Both officers claim damages of $500,000 each.

Contact staff writer Joy Lukachick at jlukachick@timesfree or 423-757-6659.

about Joy Lukachick Smith...

Joy Lukachick Smith is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Since 2009, she's covered crime and court systems in North Georgia and rural Tennessee, landed an exclusive in-prison interview with a former cop convicted of killing his wife, exposed impropriety in an FBI-led, child-sex online sting and exposed corruption in government agencies. Earlier this year, Smith won the Malcolm Law Memorial Award for Investigative Reporting. She also won first place in ...

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