LPD sergeant gets demoted for keeping $100 he found

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A Lewisburg Police sergeant, who kept a $100 bill he found on the front yard of a house during a domestic call, was demoted to patrol officer on Friday, according to public records.

Officer Anthony McLean returned to patrol duty Monday evening after a week of paid administrative leave, Police Chief Chuck Forbis said. McLean was paid $39,464 annually. He's now making $38,329.

"In any job there are promotions and demotions," McLean said Monday night. "That's pretty much all I've got to say about that."

On-duty police "shall not use, keep or convert any citizen's property for their personal use when the property comes into (their) possession as a result of (their) employment with the LPD," according to disciplinary standards for police conduct.

McLean's misconduct during the domestic call in December was revealed as Forbis investigated information that raised "concerns" about bribery, but the chief concluded it was McLean's "poor judgment" that led to "the appearance of wrongdoing" during a traffic stop on Mooresville Pike.

Officer Terry Ebenstein stopped Kedren Johnson, a local high school basketball star, who was issued a ticket in early May for allegedly driving 63 mph in a 45 mph zone, Forbis said. Johnson's city court date is June 13. McLean was the shift sergeant backing up Ebenstein. McLean went to the car Johnson was driving and accepted a pair of basketball shoes. The policeman and Johnson reportedly have a coach-player friendship. Johnson previously provided Mc-Lean with basketball shoes.

As Ebenstein returned to his patrol car, McLean approached him "and stated, 'Good stop. I got something, too.' "

Forbis found "no issues with Sgt. McLean receiving shoes from Mr. Johnson," the chief wrote in a department memo. "McLean certainly demonstrated a lack of good judgment in choosing to obtain those shoes while Mr. Johnson was the subject of a traffic stop."

Information about McLean's then-pending demotion was known outside the department early last week. Forbis met with McLean May 13, placed him on leave and directed him to return the next Friday morning.

During McLean's May 13 meeting with Forbis, "He was absolutely forthcoming," the chief said late Friday morning. "Honesty goes a long way in this business."

It was that same spirit of openness that revealed what Forbis calls the "found money incident."

Officers have told the chief, "McLean told them that he found $100 laying on the ground in the front yard of the property at the domestic call and kept the money," the department memo states.

McLean didn't ask the residents if they were missing money, and said since there was no way to identify the money's owner, there was no reason to put it into police "property as found money," Forbis said, noting McLean said he'd leave jewelry, an Xbox or something similar because he did not need it.

"McLean did not seem to grasp the concept that it was wrong to keep the money," Forbis wrote.

The chief reached a similar conclusion about the "shoe incident."

"Despite several attempts to explain how inappropriate it was to get the shoes from Mr. Johnson during the traffic stop, Sgt. McLean did not seem to agree," Forbis wrote.