Moss Apologizes, Ethics Complaint Dismissed

By Jeff Neumeyer

November 30, 2012 Updated Nov 30, 2012 at 7:16 PM EDT

Fort Wayne, Ind. (www.incnow.tv) --Apology made, apology accepted.

An ethics violation complaint filed against Allen County Council Member Paul Moss was dismissed Friday, after Moss publicly acknowledged at least the appearance of wrongdoing related to a June traffic stop.

Moss’ acceptance of responsibility led to dismissal of the ethics charge with no penalties ordered.

It's not clear if the commission had the authority to bring down any consequences against Moss anyway.

There was supposed to be a public hearing regarding the Moss case before the Allen County Ethics Commission.

But a negotiated agreement settled the matter, canceling the public hearing.

Moss was pulled over by police June 2nd.

The county sheriffs officers wanted to administer a Breathalyzer exam, but after Moss placed a call to Sheriff Ken Fries, he was allowed to go home without being tested.

Moss has steadfastly maintained he didn't ask for or get any favors in the investigation.

As part of the agreement, Moss wrote a written apology, saying in part, "I do deeply regret that my act of calling Sheriff Ken Fries on June 2, 2012 has caused any citizen to question the integrity of our government and fair application of its laws. I understand that my actions that day created the appearance of impropriety. Our citizens have the right to expect its elected leaders to not only comply with their ethical obligations but to avoid appearances of special treatment, and I am sorry that my decision to call Sheriff Fries that evening caused such speculation."

" That acknowledgement that it did create an appearance of impropriety was enough for me to go along with and approve the agreement, because that was important to me," said ethics commission member Tom Hardin, who was part of the 2-0 vote in favor of endorsing the disposition agreement.

" I felt that this process took way too long, there's no question about that. And I've said before, I was frustrated with the way that this was handled," said Moss, who believes the apology he made shortly after the incident should have settled the matter long ago.

He still insists he did not violate the county's ethics ordinance.

Tom Hardin does not believe the commission could have given Moss a public reprimand or financial penalty.

Hardin says, because Moss is an elected official, he does not think any suspension could be supported, and that it wasn’t possible to notify a superior, because as an elected official, he only answers to the voters.

The Allen County Commissioners will have to appoint a third member to the ethics commission, as commission member Tom Ryan walked out of an October hearing on the Moss case, then turned in his resignation in frustration over how the investigation was being handled.

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