HAMLET — Former police chief John Haywood’s attorney says he hopes for a fair resolution for his client, who City Manager Marchell David fired amid controversy in September 2012.
Attorney Michael McGuinness of Bladen County addressed the Hamlet City Council and attendees during Tuesday’s regular meeting, announcing he represents Haywood.
At the time of Haywood’s dismissal from the Hamlet Police Department, he was charged with gross negligence in the carrying out of his administrative duties and failure to supervise departmental operations, resulting in improper spending of city funds.
The city funds in question were associated with seized vehicle sales to a scrapyard. David and the council cited Haywood for improperly reporting money collected from selling the vehicles.
While the State Bureau of Investigation cleared Haywood of any wrongdoing, it turned its attention on fellow officer Michael Veach, whose job was to sell the seized vehicles.
“I’ve come to invite them (the city of Hamlet) to engage in a process whereby once we conclude the investigation, hopefully I can come back and talk with them in a meaningful and civil way,” McGuinness said. “Hopefully what we’re going to do is conclude our work here in the next few weeks with interviews and examination of documents and see if we can seek some type of resolution with the town.”
McGuinness said he does not know what that resolution may involve, but said he feels positive that if those involved in the matter conduct themselves appropriately, a past wrong can be righted.
“There’s obviously been a lot of strife over here, and we would like to see that finally put to rest,” McGuinness said.
McGuinness said Haywood’s termination is a primary focal point of his work on this case, but it certainly is not the only thing that he is examining.
“We’re looking at what led to that, what caused that, who participated in that, who may have been involved in certain events that led to that,” he said. “But when you work in my business, you like to know as much as you can about the person you’re trying to help, the positive and the negative. I asked someone about John Haywood, and, interesting way to respond to that, he said something to the effect of, ‘He’s the kind of fellow that if he’s cutting the watermelon, he’ll give you the best piece.’ And, it sort of stuck with me. I’m going to always remember watermelon when I think of John Haywood.”
Contact reporter Melonie Flomer at 910-997-3111, ext. 15.