Metro-East News

Husband and wife sue city, say they were fired for exposing police chief’s corruption

Couple sues city, say they were fired for exposing police chief’s corruption

A second lawsuit filed Tuesday against the city of Nashville says two former employees were fired for reporting corruption within the city’s police department. Melissa Hopfinger and her husband, Greg Hopfinger, were both fired in August 2017.
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A second lawsuit filed Tuesday against the city of Nashville says two former employees were fired for reporting corruption within the city’s police department. Melissa Hopfinger and her husband, Greg Hopfinger, were both fired in August 2017.

A second lawsuit filed against the city of Nashville says two former employees were fired for reporting corruption within the city’s police department.

Melissa Hopfinger worked as an administrative assistant in the police department in Nashville, and her husband, Greg Hopfinger, was a police officer before they were both fired in August 2017.

Her suit, filed Aug. 21 in Washington County, claims she was fired based on her and her husband separately reporting legal and regulatory violations committed by Nashville Police Chief Brian Fletcher.

On Thursday, Fletcher told the BND he could not comment on legal matters.

According to the newly filed lawsuit, Melissa Hopfinger reported in May 2017 that Fletcher was falsifying firearms training documents.

The same month, she told Mayor Erik Rolf that Fletcher was not providing information to account for his absences from work, allowing him to take time off without using sick days or vacation time.

According to the suit, Rolf told Hopfinger to “hang in there” and it would get better.

Rolf did not respond to calls for comment.

In July, Melissa Hopfinger was hospitalized with a severe medical condition and had to have a hysterectomy. According to the suit, her husband told Fletcher and Rolf about her surgery and, per doctor’s orders, she would need time off to heal.

While she was on leave, the police department did not have anyone else take over her job, the suit claims. Melissa Hopfinger instead had to work from home while she was recovering.

Melissa Hopfinger returned to work on August 30, according to the suit, which is when Rolf told her the city was eliminating her position. The next day, she was terminated from her job. The complaint included a letter from Fletcher that stated her termination was effective immediately.

The lawsuit argues Melissa Hopfinger’s termination violates the Family and Medical Leave Act and the Whistleblower Act.

In February 2018, her husband also filed a suit against the city under the Whistleblower Act.

Greg Hopfinger worked at the Nashville police department for 16 years before being fired on August 22, nine days before his wife’s termination.

Greg Hopfinger’s lawsuit, which was scheduled for a settlement conference in February 2019, includes nearly a dozen accusations against Fletcher.

In the suit, Greg Hopfinger accuses Fletcher of failing to re-certify for his firearm qualification and falsifying qualification records.

He also accuses Fletcher of misappropriating donations. According to the suit, a woman donated money to the department for the benefit of fallen officers and, after the money was given to Fletcher, it disappeared.

Other allegations include:

  • An officer got drunk and passed out in a McDonald’s drive-thru. The officer who responded to the call allowed the first officer to drive home and did not record the incident.
  • Not reporting and recording an incident involving a high school student robbed at gunpoint
  • Having officers help him move furniture instead of monitoring the crosswalk at an elementary school
  • Allowing the asset-forfeiture program to become non-compliant with the U.S. Department of Justice Asset Forfeiture program
  • Denying pay to an officer called in to work on a day off
  • Paying overtime to an officer who didn’t earn it
  • Working less than 40 hours a week, but not marking leave time down for it
  • Not following up with citizens requesting police assistance
  • Trying to get a ticket dropped for a friend

The city did not comment on the lawsuit but is required to file a response in court in the near future.

Kaley Johnson: 618-239-2526, @KaleyJohnson6
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