EXCLUSIVE: Hidden document sheds new light on 1998 investigation into LMPD chief’s conduct

Document gives insight into Chief Conrad's conduct
Updated: Aug. 7, 2018 at 6:33 PM EDT
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David James (Source: WAVE 3 News)
David James (Source: WAVE 3 News)
(Source: WAVE 3 News)
(Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The man who now leads the Louisville Metro Police Department once "wrote himself up" for being untruthful with investigators who were looking into overtime abuses by officers under his command.

That's one of the revelations from documents obtained exclusively by WAVE 3 News, detailing an investigation into Conrad's actions in the 1990s.

The documents confirmed Conrad gave "untruthful" statements during an interview with investigators for which he received a suspension of six days.

The documents also confirmed the disciplinary action was reversed in 2001 after an appeal, and all records about the case were ordered to be removed from his file.

The primary document is a 2001 letter from Henri Mangeot, the then-Executive Director of Louisville's Labor-Management Committee, a body that resolved labor disputes at the time. The letter lays out the initial accusation, how the department handled it, and why Conrad's discipline was ultimately overturned.

The history detailed in the letter begins in 1998, when Conrad was the commanding officer of the Second Division during a time of spiking crime which was described as the "Summer of no excuses."

Mangeot explained that Conrad asked the lieutenants and sergeants under his command to schedule manpower and make written reports about results. Conrad then decided -- without approval from the department -- to pay those lieutenants and sergeants "administrative overtime" for the extra work.

Problems quickly developed.

The documents described a mess when it came to tracking, recording, billing and accounting for the overtime.

In 1998, a criminal investigation into the theft of overtime at the hands of two Second Division officers who were under Conrad's watch was initiated by the White Collar Crime Unit.

During the course of that investigation, Conrad was interviewed about the "administrative overtime." Conrad repeated that the overtime funds had to be paid for work done outside of normal working hours. The documents contain excerpts from Conrad's statements during that interview:

"You can't do something on duty and get paid for it when you're off duty," he said. "That time is expected to be put in outside of your regular duty schedule, you could use overtime. I mean it had to be time put in outside of your normal day."

The investigator continues, "Outside of forty hours regular duty?"

"Absolutely," Conrad responded.

The document then stated that Conrad agonized over his statements overnight. The next day, he told investigators he wanted to clarify his statements.

Then, the document stated, Conrad drafted a letter writing himself up for untruthfulness. He gave that letter to the assistant police chief at the time, Cynthia Shain. In it, Conrad admitted he was not honest with investigators. He said that it did in fact, not matter to him if the "administrative overtime" hours paid to his sergeants and lieutenants were worked during normal working hours – effectively allowing what the document describes as "double dipping."

"Again in my mind the overtime didn't necessarily have to be worked as overtime," Conrad said at the time.

"Grievant (Conrad) was not concerned with the clock times or dates an officer put on an overtime slip," the document stated.

In an attachment, Conrad went on to explain that he was "surprised" by the line of questioning during the 1998 interview.

"I was caught off guard," he said. "Quite frankly, I was concerned that I would get in trouble for authorizing something that I didn't have permission to do."

He later continued, "It was an instance I guess in the district where I was managing a little bit by, it's much better to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission. In retrospect, it wasn't a wise thing to do."

Shain and the police chief at the time, Doug Hamilton, who is Louisville's current Chief of Public Services, chose not to discipline Conrad in 1998, before the criminal investigation was over.

Shain responded to Hamilton's request to look into his actions by saying, "There does not appear to be an intention to deceive the investigators on Major Conrad's part." Shain went on to call it a "misunderstanding."

In another document written by Hamilton, he stated he did not discipline Conrad because they were unable to prove or disprove the actual amount of improper overtime hours. Hamilton said there was no violation of policy in regard to Conrad setting up the administrative overtime pay, because no such policy existed. He also declined to discipline Conrad for being untruthful because he corrected his statements the next day.

The original overtime criminal investigation continued. And in October 1999, the White Collar Crimes Unit issued its report to new Police Chief Eugene Sherrard. That report listed "probable" and "possible" violations of policy which were discovered during the investigation. The investigators recommended an Internal Affairs Unit investigation into Conrad's actions.

But then in 2000, new Acting Police Chief Greg Smith took over the department. New Director of Safety Milton Dohoney inherited Conrad's case. Dohoney and Smith looked over Conrad's file, the document stated. That's when they decided Conrad should have been disciplined.

They suspended Conrad for six days, three of which were for untruthfulness. The three other days of suspension were for violating the administrative responsibilities of Commanding Officers, the documents stated.

Conrad then filed a grievance, claiming he never denied he had been untruthful and had tried to correct his statements right away.

He also argued that Hamilton had not disciplined him in 1998, ultimately closing the matter.

While Mangeot's letter did not minimize the untruthful statements Conrad made, he said the committee decided to overturn the suspension because Conrad quickly corrected his statements, and because so much time elapsed before punishment was handed down.  The committee also ordered the record of the disciplinary action be removed from Conrad's file.

The information about the 1998 case was revealed by Louisville Metro Council President David James during a deposition in a recent whistleblower case.

James later spoke to Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer about the case, and six other examples in which James said he believes Conrad gave contradictory statements.

City attorneys responded by calling James to the witness stand during a hearing on the whistleblower case on Aug. 3, and accusing him of colluding with the defendant.

Fischer and Conrad also responded publicly the same day. Fischer reiterated his confidence in Conrad.

Conrad, meanwhile, released a statement, admitting he made a mistake and called his 1998 statements "misleading."

"Nearly 21 years ago, when I was a captain in command of a district in the former city police department, I made a mistake by not giving all the information I had during an initial interview as part of a criminal investigation involving one of my subordinates," Conrad wrote. "I did then what I have always asked of the officers I command – I recognized my mistake and quickly acted to address it. Within less than 18 hours, I asked to be interviewed again so that my initial answers would not be misleading. I spoke with my superiors, including the police chief at the time. After a review by my supervisors, no discipline was given and it was determined I had acted in good faith."

WAVE 3 News contacted LMPD on Tuesday in response to the newly-obtained documents.

Jesse Halladay, the chief's top advisor, told us, "As the official record of that finding, the chief does not dispute its contents. Chief Conrad has no further comment on the matter at this time."

Halladay also pointed out that the department has released to WAVE 3 News the documents pertaining to Conrad's file, but that this letter is not a department document.

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