A formal complaint has been filed with the Allen County Ethics Commission that accuses two county officials of a conflict of interest in connection with a traffic stop earlier this month.
Philip Pease, a former county information technologies employee, alleges that Sheriff Ken Fries and Councilman Paul Moss, both Republicans, violated county regulations by having a phone conversation early June 2 that resulted in Moss being allowed to leave the stop on Dupont Road without being subjected to a test to measure whether he had been drinking.
Moss told The News-Sentinel he was unsure why a county officer stopped his 2011 Cadillac, although he said he may have swerved while texting a friend of his daughter's. Moss said he was picking up his daughter and several of her friends from a bar because he did not want them to drive, and said he had nothing alcoholic to drink for several hours before the stop.
Moss said he called Fries not to seek special treatment but to speed up the testing process, which had been delayed because a Fort Wayne Police officer called to the scene had been diverted to another case. Moss said he would have been willing to go downtown for a formal test, but said he declined the field sobriety test because it might be inaccurate.
Fries has insisted that he also did nothing wrong and merely allowed his officer on the scene to use his discretion.
Pease, however, said Moss' council authority over Fries' budget created a conflict of interest in violation of the county's 2005 ethics policy. Moss also had a financial reason to avoid a situation that might have jeopardized his business or political career, Pease contends.
Commission attorney Tom Hardin said the board could consider the complaint at its July 20 meeting but was uncertain what authority, if any, the Commission might have. As elected officials, however, the board would not be able to fire either Moss or Fries.