Sheriff No Longer Target In Ethics Investigation

By Jeff Neumeyer

September 28, 2012 Updated Sep 28, 2012 at 5:39 PM EDT

ALLEN COUNTY, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) --- The sheriff is off the hook in an ethics probe.

The Allen County Ethics Commission Friday dismissed a conflict of interest complaint against Sheriff Ken Fries.

The members said they no longer felt they had jurisdiction to hold him accountable in the matter.

It’s the latest in an investigation centered on two elected officials and a disputed traffic stop.

The investigation carries on, but now Allen County Council Member Paul Moss is the only target.

In early June, Sheriff Fries got a phone call in the middle of the night from Moss, a personal friend, who had been pulled over by two county officers on suspicion he'd been driving drunk.

Moss was eventually allowed to go home without taking a breathalyzer exam.

The county ethics commission voted 3 to 0 to dismiss a complaint against Fries, for his involvement in the incident.

The new development comes after Fries' lawyer filed paperwork with commission members, showing he and all other Indiana sheriffs have to answer to their own code of conduct.

" The mere fact that Sheriff Fries is subject to a separate code of ethics was enough for us to determine that we couldn't exceed our authority," said Tom Hardin, an attorney who serves on the ethics commission.

" This ordinance is specific that we don't want to step on anyone else's code of ethics. If you are not covered by a code of ethics, then we will look into it. If you are, then we will not," said Don Swanson, the lawyer representing Fries.

Hardin disputed the notion that the public might now feel like the sheriff has gotten off on a technicality.

He says the commission has formally requested an account of what happened from three different officers working the case.

He believes the answers provided could well shed light on Sheriff Fries' actions, even if he no longer could face any type of discipline from the commission.

The commission is set to hold another hearing in the Moss ethics probe on October 29th.




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