Original URL: http://www.jsonline.com/news/metro/sep04/262100.asp
Fired detective still collects pay
And, sitting in jail, facing 10 criminal charges, he'll have a lawyer courtesy of taxpayers
By JOHN DIEDRICH
Posted: Sept. 26, 2004
A Milwaukee police detective, recently fired from the force, continues drawing his nearly $65,000 annual salary as he sits in the County Jail facing 10 criminal charges, while taxpayers foot his legal bills.
Byron Andrews says he has debts of $25,000, including a $150 monthly cable TV bill. The county is paying $50 an hour for his attorney.
Byron Andrews, an 11-year veteran of the force, has been jailed since Aug. 3, charged with causing injury while drunken driving, battery, disorderly conduct and violating bail. Arrested three different times between December and August, he is being held on $5,000 bail.
Chief Nannette Hegerty fired Andrews on Sept. 2 for nine department violations, including breaking Wisconsin law. She declined to comment on the case. Andrews has appealed.
Under state law, fired police officers get paid until their appeal is heard by a review body, which in Milwaukee typically takes 90 days, said Steven Fronk, hearing examiner for the Fire and Police Commission.
In late January, Andrews asked for a public defender, saying he couldn't afford an attorney. Circuit Judge Marshall Murray said he didn't qualify for a public defender, but based on documents provided by Andrews, found that the detective was "indigent," court records said.
In an affidavit of indigency, Andrews said he was earning about $2,500 every two weeks or $65,000 a year. Andrews said he was supporting five children and his fiancee, and had debts of about $25,000 (including a $150 monthly cable TV bill), some of which was garnisheed from his paycheck, the document said. He said he had been living out of his car after being evicted.
Murray appointed private attorney Dennis Thornton, who is being paid $50 per hour by the county. Murray ordered Andrews to pay back the county $25 per month.
Though Andrews is getting a county-funded lawyer, a Journal Sentinel investigation in 2002 found that defendants earning as little as $248 a month were denied state public defenders and forced to represent themselves in serious cases because of outdated income guidelines. It also found that Milwaukee County often orders repayment for court-appointed defense attorneys, but the county rarely collects it.
Murray declined to comment on Andrews' case but said he routinely appoints county-paid attorneys for defendants who earn money but not enough to pay a large cash retainer typically required by a private attorney.
Thornton, Andrews' attorney, declined to comment on the case. A woman identifying herself as Andrews' mother also declined to comment.
Milwaukee Police Association president Bradley DeBraska said the state law that continues pay during an appeal is intended to protect wrongly fired police officers and their families.
Andrews, 39, joined the force in 1993.
In 1997, he was suspended for two days without pay for drinking alcohol while armed with his police gun, the first in a series of department rule violations, according to his personnel record.
On July 3, 1998, Andrews fatally shot a man in the neck. Andrews said Antonio Davis, whom he wanted to question about a possible kidnapping, was trying to drive away while holding on to Andrews' hands, one of which held his police gun. The gun accidentally went off, killing Davis, Andrews said.
Jurors ruled the shooting accidental but put a note on the verdict saying they believed there had been "severe negligence on the part of officer Byron Andrews."
The city later paid $10,000 to Davis' family to settle a lawsuit.
After the shooting, Andrews said he began suffering psychiatric symptoms and started to abuse alcohol, according to a mental health assessment in his court file. Andrews said he saw a mental health professional for a 45-minute session after the 1998 shooting and "no further treatment was pursued," the court document said.
Andrews was promoted to detective in March 2000. The following year, he was charged with battering the mother of two of his children. A jury found him not guilty.
In 2002, Andrews' gun accidentally discharged, hitting him in the back of the leg, the court documents said. The incident occurred in a hospital bathroom, and Andrews was carrying his gun in his waistband, for which he was later punished, according to his personnel record.
Andrews said he had gone through alcohol detox five times since 2002, court records said.
Court documents say he was suspended from the department in September 2003. He has not worked since then, but has been paid for most of that period.
In December, Andrews was arrested on allegations of hitting his sister and then trying to persuade her not to report it. On June 3, Andrews was accused of ramming his Honda Accord into the back of another car, sending three people to the hospital.
A witness reported seeing the detective drinking from a bottle as he drovebefore the purported accident, the criminal complaint said. A test showed Andrews had a 0.28 blood-alcohol level in his system, more than three times the 0.08 considered evidence of intoxication. Police reported finding a nearly empty bottle of brandy on the center console of Andrews' car.
On Aug. 3, Andrews was arrested again, this time accused of pushing his fiancee's head and violating probation by drinking alcohol, the complaint said. Andrews has not been out of jail since.
Deputy District Attorney Jon Reddin said he didn't know of any pending cases that would require Andrews to testify, and prosecutors would be very hesitant to call him.
"It is pretty well known on our staff that if Byron Andrews is on the case, we are not going to call him," Reddin said.
In a Jan. 9 hearing in the battery case, Andrews told Court Commissioner Dennis Cook he was cleaning up.
"I mean, I'm trying to get things taken care of," Andrews said, according to the transcript.
"You have some very serious problems, alcohol being among them," Cook said. "You just have to reach down and find out what you can do to get yourself back on track."
Andrews' next court hearing is today.
Dude... in my county, we have one detective on disability who plays golf three times a week. This guy has retired once already and is double dipping after being hired back.
We have one officer who is on medical disability retirement after his third round dipping from the state retirement fund. He was tending bar at the American Legion in UNIFORM while ON DUTY. He was given a medical disability in lieu of being fired. WTF?!?!???
One guy who is being sued for numerous civil complaints is on his third round through the state retirement system. He is working as the coroner investigator part time, and is the prosecutor's part time investigator. In Ohio, neither of those positions have official LEO authority, but he conducts and coordinates investigations across jurisdictions all the time (hence civil lawsuits against the county). I made a public records request of our prosecutor's office to see their credit card statements for the past 3 years. This guy eats lunch and dinner out on the taxpayers nearly every day of the week. I am not talking Burger King either. $30 lunches with alcohol... billed to the county taxpayers.
Nobody has the balls to stand up to these old guard good-ol-boys who do as they please. We fuind their lifestyle and we're not supposed to ask questions.
I think you have a right to an accounting. Sounds like abuse of the system to me. FWIW, we are not allowed in any bar in uniform except when dispatched. When we work off duty part time, we have to stay in the lot or outside the door.
About the golf playing detective. He may be on the disabled light duty list, getting paid from the department, but I don't think they pay him additional disabilty if he was hired back. Well, at least here they wouldn't. Hard to say about Ohio.
Back to the main topic: Milwaukee should have fired that detective a long time ago. Yeah, I know it fries everyones ass that he's getting paid while in jail, but until his appeal to get his job back is settled, that's the way it works. We've had the same problems and most everyone I knew wanted the officer in question off the department, but we had to wait on a final decision.
So I become a cop make lets say (guessing) 48,000 a year? stay on for 5 years make detective and make 60grand??
If that shitbag can do it why cant I??