Under the Dome

Judge upholds trooper firing

A 19-year veteran state Highway Patrol trooper will not get his job back after an incident in which he sent a state credit union teller a doctored picture with an obscene image.

An administrative court judge ruled to uphold the firing of Ronald Gene Ezzell Jr., who prior to his dismissal flew helicopters for the patrol, for the incident, Kevin Kiley reports.

Ezzell was at the drive-through of the State Employees Credit Union on Vernon Avenue in Kinston on Oct. 28, 2008, when he placed a laminated picture of a young naked boy with an enlarged penis superimposed on his body, along with identification and a check to be cashed, in the canister and sent it to a female teller. Ezzell was in uniform in a marked patrol car at the time.

The patrol dismissed Ezzell in February on the grounds that he engaged conduct unbecoming of a state employee. Ezzell challenged the firing in the state’s Office of Administrative Hearings last month.

At the hearing, Ezzell said he meant the photo as a joke, saying he told the teller that the picture was of him at his grandmother’s house as a child. Ezzell called his actions an error in judgment, but not grounds for dismissal.

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