Transcript of interview with Chief Murray’s attorney

Tue, 02/05/2008 - 4:49pm
By: Ben Nelms

The following is a transcript of an interview in mid-January with the attorney representing Peachtree City Police Chief James Murray. The attorney is Richard Lindsey; he is interviewed by The Citizen’s Ben Nelms.

Reporter: Why did Jim [Murray] resign when he did? It coincides with the finalizing of the Bergh allegations and Bernie receiving the chat info ... why?

Attorney Richard Lindsey: [Murray] was cleared of the Bergh allegations. On behalf of Jim Murray, for well over 16 months, I’ve had meetings with the mayor and city attorney, too numerous to count, on the possibility of Jim Murray retiring as chief of police. And those meetings, at some times, were numerous over a short period of time and at other times spread out.

For 16 months on a fairly regular basis we were discussing the possibility of the chief retiring. The chief has required that certain things happen for any date of retirement.

One, to never impact the accreditation or reaccreditation of the department to make sure that any impact was minimal, that it was timed as such that a replacement could be found. That was always paramount to the chief.

I know in early November, I don’t know the date, where he was cleared of the Bergh allegations.

As I understand it, in that meeting, certain Internet correspondence was brought up to him. As I understand it, the chief’s response was, ‘Listen, I know that every key stroke, everything done on the computers in the city is recorded and kept.

Because of the work the department does, because of past investigations dealing with prostitution, particularly involving Asian women being brought over, the chief wanted to know how this all worked, was told how the chat rooms worked, went on to the chat rooms to participate.

I don’t know any more about these investigations other than that. These communications were the ones that were shown to him and were subsequently shown to me.

Reporter: We know PD was doing the pedophile stuff ... you mentioned an investigation on Asian women being brought here ... as far as we know there was no official program ...

Lindsey: I’ve never had a point-blank conversation with the chief about the details of the investigation. I’m not sure the chief would tell me if I did ask about any investigation unless I was involved from a legal perspective.

I’m not the city attorney so I’m not privy to what’s going on with investigations anymore.

But I do know that we did have a prostitution-type location here in Peachtree City where we had a massage parlor that employed Asian women who were performing certain acts for pay, and I know newspapers are PG-rated so I’ll leave it at that.

Reporter: How long ago was that ... in what year?

Lindsey: I don’t know, I don’t remember. The last few years. I don’t think I was still city attorney, so maybe three or four years ago when that happened. Anyway, I know there were Asian women and, again because I have a pretty good rapport with many of the police officers and the investigation that went on and what all was involved in dealing with massage parlors here in PTC.

Reporter: There were a number of different chat conversations on Murray’s computer. Were those his conversations? Was that him?

Lindsey: Again, I don’t know.

Reporter: Because it was definitely on his computer. If it wasn’t his, then somebody had access to the computer.

Lindsey: In my conversations with the chief, he was looking at investigations, looking at an Asian women connection, but I’ve not gone through and cross-examined him on any of these.

Reporter: And as you did say a few minutes ago, he was well aware that every key stroke was logged into the city system.

Lindsey: Absolutely.

Reporter: Let me follow up here. It was on the Nov. 5 meeting with [City Manager] Bernie [McMullen] that he was cleared of the Bergh allegations. It was on the same date that the compilation of the chat room stuff and a memo from IT to Bernie about it. And you’ve already indicated that you believe that the information was perhaps at the meeting.

Lindsey: I have to say perhaps because I wasn’t at the meeting. And all I can say is that it was perhaps within a couple of weeks of the meeting if it wasn’t that meeting.

Reporter: Why was Jim called to City Hall?

Lindsey: I don’t know.

Reporter: Do you know what happened at the meeting?

Lindsey: I know they had a conversation. But there was no termination, no disciplinary action, nothing like that, that in know of. It was a conversation between Bernie and the chief.

Reporter: How shortly after that did he resign?

Lindsey: My belief is around Thanksgiving.

Reporter: One other thing about the meeting. We know that there were two deputies in the building. What did the deputies request of Murray and did they take his service weapon and later return it to him?

Lindsey: The chief has never told me that his service weapon was ever taken from him. Now did he take it off? I don’t know. Again, I have no idea.

Reporter: What did Bernie use to persuade Jim to turn in his retirement papers and why at this time?

Lindsey: I don’t believe that the chief was persuaded at all to turn in his retirement. From my conversations with the chief, we had been discussing the possibility of his retirement for about 16 months.

He had been accused of a sexual harassment which he was cleared of and that is what he was under the impression of that was happening at the Nov. 5 meeting.

At the meeting, an additional unrelated, basically off-the-wall allegation, came about the chat room.

Chief knows full well that this was his investigation. He explained that to Mr. McMullen.

And it was a question, in position as chief, he has to have the trust and the respect and support of his superiors and there have been just a number of items over the last couple of years where it was obvious that that was never going to be.

And chief wanted to go out on a high note and did not want to get into any type of public discourse. And so we’ve been discussing it for 16 months.

He’d gotten the department re-accredited. He received at the same time the highest award that the accreditation (organization) gives to individual police officers. He had accomplished everything he wanted to. And it was time to just time to say you know what ... it’s time to go. So he elected to retire.

If anybody in the city wants to believe that his use of the computer that he knew full well every key stroke was being examined was for anything other than police purposes, that’s their issue. It’s not his.

Reporter: One more question about the meeting. I know you weren’t there, but I need to ask you. We did hear that it was a heated meeting. Was it and how would you characterize it ... cool, heated?

Lindsey: I was not there. I have had two conversations with the chief about what took place at that meeting. I’ve had conversations that involved Mr. McMullen about that meeting. No one has ever described it to me as heated. No one has told me it was anything other than a regular meeting.

Reporter: What’s the history between Jim and Bernie?

Rick: Obviously Mr. McMullen was the chief’s boss. And obviously Mr. McMullen was arrested for DUI by two of the police officers in PTC and the chief stayed on the sideline with that.

Reporter: Let me combine this with the next question since you’re already going in to it. Was Bernie going after Murray over things like the prior theft of services from Public Works or the DUI? Sorry to interrupt you on the history.

Lindsey: You’d have to ask Bernie about his motivations, but I don’t know. You’d have to ask him. And then there were some tensions about the pay plan, with no raises given to the officers, with other related issues between the police officers and the city as a whole.

I know of no attempts to fire the chief. I know of nothing on either side to escalate it other than it’s a friction that (they) did not agree on those points. So I don’t have any knowledge that Mr. McMullen was trying to do anything, but you’d have to ask him about his motivation.

Reporter: Did Jim think that he and the PD were given a fair deal under Bernie?

Lindsey: I don’t know.

Reporter: Was there any pressure by the mayor for his retirement or resignation?

Lindsey: Not that I’ve ever heard.

Reporter: What was the relationship between Jim and the mayor and can you characterize it?

Lindsey: Again, I don’t know. My conversations with the mayor about Jim’s retirement were always positive. My conversations with the chief regarding the mayor were always forthright and like any upper level management talking about the elected folks. Most of the time it’s positive but there are times they disagree and they think policy is not where it needs to go.

Reporter: Based on one of the emails in the 2003 era, Jim had apparently communicated with a woman allegedly named Judy Zeng, apparently residing in China. Copies of that were supposedly sent to [then-Mayor] Steve Brown and some of the council members. You may have been city attorney then. She asserts that he was professing some type of feeling for her and that he could go on dive trips but could not make time for her.

Lindsey: I don’t know who Judy Zeng is. I would not have been city attorney. It would have been about the same time if not identically the same time as the situation with the massage parlor in PTC. And Judy Zeng, or whoever this person or persons might be, in China or wherever, I don’t know if this person was part of the investigation or a target of the investigation, I don’t know.

Reporter: Why does Jim have an attorney?

Lindsey: I don’t know, other than Jim and I have worked together since 1991 or 1992, whenever this firm became city attorneys. I represented the department in many, many battles and I have a deep respect for Chief Murray and I think he has a deep respect for me.

He has a retirement home outside the state. He is gone most of the time. He asked me back in early December, that he knew there might be some interest in the story because of the subject matter, or whatever else, and he said that whatever came up I had his authority and his permission to talk to the press.

I think he trusts me to tell it like it is. I think you could say the same thing about why he asked me to talk to the city folks about possible retirement. I think he trusts my advice.

Reporter: Otherwise, unless he thinks he’s going to sue the city or somebody is going to come after him and he’s going to need a lawyer, which is more on the outer fringe of things.

Lindsey: We had discussions on the computer activity. Let me just make sure that it is clear that there are no allegations of any criminal wrongdoing on anybody’s part here.

Even if the chat room history were of a personal nature, it’s not illegal. He would have only talked to some women reportedly from Asia, as far as I understand.

But again, my understanding is that it dealt with an investigation a few years ago or at some time in the past. And actually, they put an undercover police officer into that massage parlor to the get evidence.

Reporter: So there should be at least one other person, if not more than one, that would know of this investigation.

Lindsey: If this were all related. But it’s so coincidental. But I know, I’ve been told there was an investigation.

— Reported by Ben Nelms.

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sniffles5's picture
Submitted by sniffles5 on Tue, 02/05/2008 - 6:27pm.

Well, another scandal in Peachtree City and look who shows up: Disgraced former city attorney Rick Lindsey.

I'm shocked, I tell you. Shocked.
The Question They Will NOT Answer:How Much Jail Time?

Submitted by sageadvice on Tue, 02/05/2008 - 7:16pm.

Most of you folks are extremely naive about police forces!!
I'm sure there are some people who work there who aren't jack-asses and more than likely get a job sooner or later, but being around most of those places for several years is very similar to hanging out in a baseball locker room or a football training building.
I don't really know how any lady can possibly put up with it!
Most of them must be like the woman in Henry County who killed two of her cop lovers.

The military has become much the same way.
However they are all very religious.

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