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Trooper asks for reinstatement

A state trooper fired for having sex in a Highway Patrol car and office asked the State Personnel Commission today to reinstate him because other troopers who engaged in similar or worse behavior are still on the force.

Monty Steven Poarch, a trooper for 18 years, was fired in 2003. His attempt to get his job back have rocked the patrol after a state administrative law judge found that he should have his job back despite behavior egregious enough to get him fired, Dan Kane reports.

The case exposed roughly two dozen examples of troopers misbehaving, including those who had extramarital affairs either on or off duty, a trooper who had repeatedly threatened to kill his wife, and a trooper who had exposed himself while in uniform in his patrol car.

Those officers remained on the force.

More after the jump.

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Poarch's attorney, Michael McGuinness of Elizabethtown, contended that the patrol had shown "10 years of preferential treatment to a chosen few." He also contended that Poarch should get his job back because his behavior harmed no one, and did not happen while he was on duty.

Joseph Dugdale, the legal counsel for the patrol, told the commission that Administrative Law Judge Melissa Owens Lassiter's decision noted that Poarch could have been fired for admitting to having sex while in uniform. He disputed her finding that the patrol's firing of Poarch amounted to disparate treatment.

"Even if a mistake is made, even if somebody got a break, the solution, the remedy, is not to tolerate that behavior in other cases," Dugdale said.

Poarch declined to comment after the hearing. He is now a lieutenant with the Caldwell County sheriff's department.

The commission will issue a written decision on the case at a later date. The commission's decisions can be appealed to state court, a likely scenario if Poarch wins because Gov. Mike Easley has vowed to not let him return to the patrol.


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