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Columbus Fire Department’s upper management will recommend that former Fire Chief Gary Henderson be fired for reportedly mismanaging proceeds from the sale of used motor oil.
Henderson, now a firefighter, has been on paid administrative leave from the department since early June, pending the outcome of a closed-door disciplinary hearing Thursday by the Columbus Board of Public Works and Safety.
Current Fire Chief Joel Thacker said he and some of his top officers will ask the works board to fire Henderson based on allegations that include misappropriation of funds, conduct unbecoming an officer and violation of public trust.
Thacker declined to talk about how they reached that recommendation. He directed questions to City Attorney Kelly Benjamin, who also declined to comment and said the information would come out at the hearing.
The hearing, though civil in nature, will work like a court trial, Benjamin said, with each party to call witnesses to testify. She said the board’s decision at the end can be appealed to Bartholomew Circuit Court.
Henderson is accused of misdirecting about $1,800 in payments the fire department received for the disposal of used motor oil from November 2006 through February 2012. The money was used to buy soft drinks and other beverages for the Police Fire Maintenance Facility. The city is accusing Henderson of not having the funds accounted for by the Columbus Clerk-Treasurer’s Office.
Henderson, who has not spoken about the case on his attorney’s advice, wanted the hearing to be open to the public. However, the city denied the request, arguing the process must remain free from outside influence.
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