In light of Tuesday night’s decision to place Trussville Fire Chief Russell Ledbetter and Fire Marshal Steve Reasonover on paid administrative leave, City Council President Anthony Montalto suggested the city hire a independent, third party counsel to execute the internal investigation.
“I strongly recommend the City hire former Jefferson County District Attorney and Trussville resident, David Barber, to serve as an independent, third part counsel to oversee all aspects of the internal audit and investigation and prepare a final report and any recommendations to the City,” Montalto wrote in a letter to his fellow members of the Council.
“The City needs complete transparency on this issue,” he continued.
The letter, shared exclusively with Alabama Today, sheds some light on the possible reasons for Lebetter and Reasonover’s dismissal, as Montalto recommends the City Council assign Barber a budget for the undertaking, and authorizes him to retain a “qualified third part forensic audit team with responsibility for directing any investigators necessary to explore any and all issues related to any possible irregularities.”
Tuesday’s announcement is the latest in a string of recent investigations and arrests of fire officials from municipalities and counties with volunteer fire departments across the state. In March Blount County Fire Chief Paula Robertson was arrested on felony charges she stole thousands from her department over two years. In Elmore County Deatsville assistant Fire Chief Chad Ellis was arrested for arson. And just last month Chilton County Fire Chief Shawn Carlisle was arrested on charges he stole $20,000 from his volunteer fire department.
The investigation comes at a particularly tumultuous time in Trussville’s political history, as Montalto and fellow member of the Council, Buddy Choat battle in a runoff for Mayor to take place October 4th. The two men edged out 20-year mayor Gene Melton in August’s elections.
Please read the entire letter sent by Mr. Montalto to the rest of the City Council at this link.