Lexington police sergeant found guilty of misconduct applies for disability pension

jkegley@herald-leader.comDecember 20, 2012 

Robert Dale Brown

A Lexington police sergeant who was found guilty of misdemeanor criminal charges Wednesday is seeking to retire with a disability pension from the city's police and firefighter pension fund.

Sgt. Robert Dale Brown applied for the benefit at a Dec. 6 meeting of the pension fund's board of trustees, said Tommy Puckett, a retired police officer who serves on the board.

A jury found Brown guilty Wednesday of three counts of second-degree official misconduct. The sergeant was accused of receiving sexual favors from a woman in his custody and failing to file proper criminal charges against the woman and her fiancé.

City spokeswoman Susan Straub said Thursday the disciplinary process against Brown will resume now that the criminal case has been resolved. However, she said it was unclear whether his application for a disability pension would have any bearing on the disciplinary process.

In the past, disciplinary proceedings have halted while the pension board reviews applications for disability pensions.

Brown potentially could retire before an administrative punishment is decided, but "even if he were terminated tomorrow," the pension board would still have to consider Brown's application for disability pension, Puckett said.

The board can only base its final decision on two questions: is Brown injured and did the injury happen at work "while he was being paid by the police department?" he said.

It could be several months before the board determines whether Brown is eligible for disability retirement. The board must refer Brown to doctors and review other evidence.

If Brown is granted a disability pension, he can collect 60 to 75 percent of his salary tax free for life, plus other benefits. Brown made $34 per hour in 2010, the last year salary records for Brown were immediately available.

Brown has been suspended without pay since July 12, but the administrative process came to a halt while his case worked its way through the court system.

Brown's disciplinary proceedings have been pending for several months. He has completed the internal portion, which includes meeting with Police Chief Ronnie Bastin, and he has appeared before a disciplinary review board composed of four assistant chiefs and 10 commanders.

Brown's case is now awaiting a hearing before the Urban County Council, said Lexington police Lt. Brian Maynard. The council is on Christmas break and does not meet again until the middle of next month.

Potential penalties for officers range from a letter of reprimand to termination of employment, said Maynard.

Maynard said he could not say much about Brown's case since it was in the hands of the city's law department. Representatives of the law department could not be reached Thursday night.

It was unclear what ailment led Brown to apply for a disability pension. Brown could not be reached for comment.

The attorney in his criminal case, Steve Schroering of Louisville, said he was not representing Brown in any administrative proceedings.

"I knew he applied for (the pension), but that's about it," Schroering said.

Brown has been an officer for 10 years without a disciplinary action prior to the misconduct charges, according to his personnel file.

The file contains dozens of commendations and awards for Brown, including a Valor Award in 2006 for being one of the first officers to arrive at the crash of Flight 5191.

Josh Kegley: (859) 231-3197. Twitter: @HLpublicsafety.

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