Ex-Chief Accused Of Using Job For Favour

Detroit Free Press

AUGUST 23, 2001 Thursday OAKLAND EDITION

SECTION: NWS; Pg. 1B

BYLINE: EMILIA ASKARI FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER

EX-CHIEF ACCUSED OF USING JOB FOR FAVORS REPORT DETAILS CHARGES AGAINST OXFORD OFFICIAL

Oxford police officer Kelly Sexton was on routine patrol when she noticed a white truck veer off the road several times.

She turned on her emergency lights and motioned for the driver to pull over. As Sexton approached the stopped truck, the driver rolled down his window and handed her his cell phone. "Gary wants to talk to you," he said.

"Gary" was Oxford Police Chief Gary Ford. The two had just been drinking scotch on the rocks at Oxford Township Supervisor Greg Gilbert's house, according to witnesses quoted in a report released to the Free Press Wednesday under the Michigan Freedom of Information Act.

The 552-page report, prepared by consultant Allen Wolf last year for the Oxford Emergency Safety Authority, led to Ford's arrest earlier this month on three felony charges and one misdemeanor charge. Several of the allegations stem from Sexton's January 1999, traffic stop.

Ford's attorney, Christopher Andreoff, denied any wrongdoing by the ex-chief. Andreoff also urged the public to wait a couple months -- a preliminary examination is set for Oct. 9 in District Court in Rochester Hills -- before drawing any conclusions about Ford's guilt.

"We're going to have the opportunity to present some other information," Andreoff said. He called the charges against Ford of larceny, misconduct in office and willful neglect of duty "much ado about nothing."

But assistant prosecuting attorney Paul Walton said Wednesday Ford was "on a power trip" and "running his own little fiefdom" that sometimes ignored the law.

According to the Wolf report, which contains sworn testimony of numerous Oxford residents, including several police officers, Ford placed two calls to dispatchers after builder "Mr. S" was stopped on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol. As a result of those calls, the dispatcher sent two messages to Sexton's car-mounted computer.

"The chief called and asked if you can cut this guy a break and drive him home. He'd appreciate it. If not, no problem," the first message read. The second read "The chief states that this is a supporter of the millage," supporting the police force. "If you want, you can call the chief at home."

Sexton drove "Mr. S" home, according to the report.

Andreoff said "Mr. S" wasn't a friend; he was a confidential informant. "There's got to be thousands of police officers across the country who do the same thing every day for intelligence sources, for fellow police officers," he added.

The Wolf report also summarizes evidence indicating that Ford embezzled several thousand dollars from donors to a police recognition dinner at the Devil's Ridge golf course.

If convicted of all the charges against him, Ford faces a maximum penalty of up to 5 years in prison.

Staff writer SALLY TATO contributed to this report. Contact EMILIA ASKARI at 248-586-2606 or askari@freepress.com.