From beginning to end: A Murray probe timeline

Tue, 02/05/2008 - 5:03pm
By: The Citizen

• June 1989 — Jim Murray is hired as Peachtree City Police Chief. He comes from service with the Savannah Police Department.

• March 2003 — A massage parlor employing Asian women is raided in Peachtree City and arrests are made.

• May 2003 — Bernie McMullen is hired as city manager.

• May 20, 2003 — Judy Zeng, a resident of mainland China, sends an email to Peachtree City officials discussing her online relationship with Murray.

• Feb. 4, 2004 — Public Works investigation announced for missing equipment and money. Ultimately, five employees resigned including the two top managers under the public works director, and criminal charges followed. The public works director went on extended medical leave. He later is named assistant city manager under McMullen.

• March 11, 2006 — An adult chat room conversation on city-owned computers ensues between Adeline Magabang and a man identifying himself as James Andrew Murray Cross.

• June 3, 2006 — City Manager Bernie McMullen is arrested for a golfcart DUI outside “The Fred” amphitheater in Peachtree City. McMullen is removed temporarily as Murray’s direct supervisor. Instead, the City Council names Mayor Harold Logsdon to be Murray’s supervisor pending disposition of the DUI charges against McMullen.

• August 2006 — System Administrator Matthew Robinson performs a “random check of the logging system files of Chief Murray and discovered eight reports containing activities of a suspect nature. Robinson briefs the city’s finance director on the discovery and then “made a copy of those files for safekeeping.” No report is made to the city manager.

• Aug. 10, 2006 — McMullen pleads guilty to a DUI and receives 24 hours in jail and an $800 fine. Shortly afterwards, McMullen resumes direct supervision over Murray and the police department.

• December 2006 — Police officers — having earlier formed their first-ever union — attend council meeting en masse. Union has no issues with management, including chief, but has problems with cap on McMullen’s suggested pay-for-performance raises and increase in employee pay of monthly health insurance premiums.

• May 12, 2007 — A group of Peachtree City police officers dine at Pano’s and Paul’s restaurant in Atlanta prior to the McIntosh High School prom.

• Sept 27, 2007 — Peachtree City Police Sgt. Odilia Bergh alleges inappropriate sexual language by Chief Murray at the May pre-prom dinner that Bergh alleges was directed at another female officer. The other officer files no complaint.

• Oct. 2, 2007 — City Manager McMullen meets with Bergh and Human Resources Manager Brenda Rogers and launches an investigation into the complaint.

• Oct. 4, 2007 — In a meeting with McMullen, Murray disputes Berg’s allegations or that Murray had made any sexually suggestive comment to a female officer. A meeting is also held between McMullen and members of the police department.

• October 2007 — An investigation is launched into Murray’s computer usage. According to System Administrator Robinson, “In October 2007, the city manager asked me if I had any unusual information regarding the police chief in response to another investigation. I advised the city manager of and provided the suspect files found from August 2006, and the city manager requested additional files and information from the computer activity reports and a search of the police chief’s computer for suspect files and activity. In the course of this most recent investigation, the majority of suspect information provided to the city manager was found.”

• Oct. 17, 2007 — McMullen receives emails from an alleged but anonymous Peachtree City police officer who backs up Bergh’s claims and provides additional information.

• Nov. 5, 2007 — On the date of McMullen’s meeting with Chief Murray, Robinson sends a memo to McMullen documenting possible violations of the city’s policy on computer use by Murray. Also, McMullen issues a memo stating he cannot corroborate Bergh’s allegations.

• Nov. 5, 2007 — McMullen meets with Murray and Lt. Col. Wayne Hannah from the Fayette County Sheriff’s department. The subject of Murray’s retirement is discussed.

• Nov. 6, 2007 — Chief Murray in a memo to McMullen sets out the timeline for his final days with the department. The memo begins, “Please accept this memo as the timetable for my official retirement as we discussed on Nov. 5, 2007.” Murray tells the city manager that he will announce his retirement to his department’s employees on Nov. 19. “As we discussed and agreed to yesterday, I will retire effective Wednesday, Jan. 2 [sic], 2008 at 1700 hours,” Murray wrote. “I appreciate your consideration in allowing me the opportunity to plan my retirement after a long career with the Peachtree City Police Department.”

• Nov. 9, 2007 — The Citizen’s editor files an open records request with city Information Officer Betsy Tyler and City Manager McMullen. The request seeks “any and all documentation, whether written or in electronic form, related to any and all complaints — including complaints of sexual harassment and/or inappropriate comments of a sexual or harassing nature — against Police Chief James Murray and/or officers under his command during the past 60 days, dated back from this date, Nov. 9, 2007 ... I am also asking the city to confirm or deny that two Fayette County Sheriff's deputies — Lt. Col. Hannah and Capt. Woodie and/or other deputies — were present before a City Hall meeting earlier this week in which Chief Murray's service weapon had to be surrendered before Murray went into a meeting that included McMullen. Please confirm or deny that City Hall was on lock-down status before and during the meeting. I also want to know the current duty status of Chief Murray. I am asking City Manager McMullen to confirm or deny that McMullen is seeking either the dismissal or the retirement of Chief Murray, such departure to occur before the end of the calendar year.”

• Nov. 14, 2007 — Peachtree City responds to The Citizen and provides partial information about the meeting, but withholds multiple documents because of the pending personnel matter. Also on this date, Murray was scheduled to depart for Colorado Springs, Colo., to accept a previously announced award.

• Nov. 17, 2007 — Lt. Col. Hannah confirms that he was at the Nov. 5 meeting, but declines to go into detail about Murray’s service weapon or the reason for the deputies’ unprecedented presence for the meeting.

• Nov. 19, 2007 — Murray was scheduled to return from Colorado and immediately to go on “terminal leave” until his retirement date.

• Dec. 10, 2007 — McMullen informs Maj. Mike Dupree, now the top-ranking remaining officer in the department, that an internal affairs investigation involving the chief has been suspended.

• Jan. 1, 2008 — Chief Murray retires after 18 years as head of Peachtree City’s police department.

• Jan. 9, 2008 — In response to renewed open records requests following Murray’s resignation, the city turns over to The Citizen additional documents, memos and logs of chat room conversations involving Murray’s computer.

• Feb. 5 and 6, 2008 — The story with accompanying details is published online and in The Citizen.

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sniffles5's picture
Submitted by sniffles5 on Tue, 02/05/2008 - 6:42pm.

This article is quite a steaming pile of journalistic dung.

They mention a massage parlor, but never relate it to anything else in the story.

Where does Judy Zeng fit in here?

They had anonymous corroboration of Berg/Bergh's complaint but Mullen claims otherwise? Huh?

A "lock down" is alluded to but no followup?

Most importantly: What in hell was "Lieutenant Colonel" Wayne Hannah doing in this mess? Who invited him?

Seriously, somebody should ship this article up to the Henry Grady School of Journalism up at UGA as a case study in how NOT to write investigative journalism.

I guess we'll just have to wait for the AJC to provide the definitive account of this mess.

Submitted by skyspy on Wed, 02/06/2008 - 2:23am.

after all. I'm very surprised.

Sniffles, someone above the small city police dept. had to investigate this. The Sheriff's Dept. is in charge of the whole county, and everything in it. Thank God we have a great Sheriff's Dept. Many of us have had to rely on them, because of lack of patrols.

This whole story is sad. No wonder he never had time for the paths, less computer, and a little more patrolling.

I feel sorry for all of the cops mentioned in this.(except the chief).

Submitted by sageadvice on Wed, 02/06/2008 - 7:01am.

Unless those connections he made were to help the female cop lure the deviants here, what the Chief did, in the office, was not ignorance--it was feeling he was invincible. Some get that way with time.
I don't really think he could have patrolled the cart paths with that extra time!

Submitted by skyspy on Wed, 02/06/2008 - 9:29am.

He could have spent his time being productive.

The Sheriff is out on the streets all of the time. Just having officers visible patrolling serves as a deterent to crime, and criminals. The Sheriff really seems to enjoy his job and serving the citizens here.

Chief Murray did not want to be bothered even returning citizen phone calls was too much for that joker, and now we see why.

Submitted by sageadvice on Wed, 02/06/2008 - 10:12am.

You keep saying, "the sheriff is out on the streets ALL of the time."

You really don't mean that do you?

He eats, takes long and several vacations, goes to conventions, training schools, awards, conventions, speaking engagements, campaigning, supervising, mucho paper work, I'm sure, and on and on!

What are you trying to prove?

Submitted by skyspy on Wed, 02/06/2008 - 10:54am.

One dept. head works hard and enjoys their work, and another doesn't.
One does crossword puzzles, and basket weaving projects, the other is visible in the community.

What are you trying to prove with all of your double posts?

NUK_1's picture
Submitted by NUK_1 on Tue, 02/05/2008 - 7:39pm.

I'd agree with you that it's some definite BS. What is alleged is too serious(and too convenient since Murray is retired and gone now)to just throw out there and not back it up with a LOT more detail.

It's very odd considering how badly the powers that be wanted Murray gone and that they suddenly are made aware of "suspect information" on his computer that existed for over a year, yet they let him resign anyway and only find out right before a meeting with him? It's also from a computer he knew full well was being monitored 24/7 for every keystroke typed? Not buying that.

"Lt. Colonel" Hannah? Give me a break! I thought they got rid of that non-existent rank when Bruce Jerrrrrrrrdan was demoted. Yeah, I'd love to know exactly why he was involved also.

Submitted by fay79isus on Tue, 02/05/2008 - 8:25pm.

Explanation on the Lt. Col. rank....Yeah, I thought that would have gone away with Little BJ, too.

The ARC did a Metro wide law enforcement pay study. The salary of Brucie (and Randall's secretary) were way out of whack. Brucie was overpaid. So what to do? Buck him down? Heck, no....Because the rank of Major (which is the highest law enforcement rank below Chief or Sheriff) was being paid lower than Brucie they had to give him a higher rank. And Light Colonel sounds better than Admiral. You would think that when he got tossed the rank and the high pay would go away but even on the local level, staff positions, raises and perks NEVER go down and they never go away.

Submitted by sageadvice on Tue, 02/05/2008 - 8:13pm.

Should be obvious. They wouldn't be there unless they were asked to be.

When you confront the top guy with a gun with possible career ending information, you would be silly to not protect those attending.

It doesn't mean at that point there is guilt.
Since the sheriff as a constitutional officer of a county can perform this duty in such a case, he did upon request, by proxy.

What has the rank of a deputy got to do with this anyway. It is a way to pay more money.

Submitted by sageadvice on Tue, 02/05/2008 - 7:22pm.

The AJC would never have found out anything about it.

The request for papers by the Citizen blew up the problem.

The full truth never comes out in such cases---too dangerous politically and for morale purposes. (not moral purposes).

Do like the bridge inspectors of Sonny's---retire them with full pay.

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