Police supervisor Wayne Faust didn’t exactly run a tight ship. Every now and then, he’d sell items out of the Metro Police Department’s supply room for petty cash. He conducted online financial transactions on his Metro computer and organized what was possibly an illegal raffle. Once, he even had an inmate help him move a couch from his Nashville home to his Smyrna apartment. Later, when queried by investigators, he conceded that it was “the wrong thing to do.”
Last month, after an internal investigation into allegations of wrongdoing, Faust resigned after 20 years with Metro. Judging by the case file, the instances of misconduct that hastened his departure weren’t sinister or particularly malicious. They were just plain dumb.
It all started in the fall, when the Police Department’s Office of Professional Accountability worked on a tip that Faust, who ran the department’s supply room, was selling wooden pallets for up to $3.50 each to a local recycling company. Faust admitted to investigators that he was, in fact, selling the pallets, but he claimed that he used the money to feed the low-security prisoners that helped him in the supply room. He said that he kept the pallet proceeds in a “lockbox” and used it to buy drinks and occasionally pizza. He told them he once used the money to buy an inmate a steak dinner, but another employee maintained that they had all chipped in to pay for it.
Faust told investigators that he started his pallet operation last July. Typically he would load the pallets from the supply area onto a police supply van with the help of either an inmate from the Sheriff’s Department or one of his subordinates. According to the report on Faust’s misconduct, he typically generated between $11 and $20 a trip and made a total of about 10 trips.
What’s puzzling is that Faust risked disciplinary action over something that wasn’t even much of a moneymaking venture. Investigators say Faust took in only about $250 from selling the pallets.
“I’m somewhat at a loss to figure out why he was engaging in the conduct that he was,” says Kennetha Sawyers, director of the Office of Professional Accountability. “The pallets weren’t generating a huge amount of income.”
Parrish Denton, who worked for Faust in the supply room, initially accompanied Faust when he went to sell the pallets. Denton told investigators that, ultimately, he refused to participate anymore, saying that the “department may look badly on it, and it could be something the media [might] make us look bad with.”
Cheryl Leathers, co-owner of the company Pallet Recyclers, remembers the first time she did business with Faust. “He came in a police van. When he pulled up, I asked if something was wrong, and he said that he had pallets to sell. I had no idea there was a problem with him doing it.”
The problem is that the pallets were not his to sell. Furthermore, Faust didn’t provide any receipts showing how he spent the money. The supervisor’s subordinates told investigators that their boss used the proceeds from the pallet sales for a pizza party, but they didn’t know what else the money was used for.
“I thought we were doing a good deed,” Faust told investigators.
There were other unusual instances of misbehavior. Faust, by his count, sold anywhere from 75 to 80 pencils as raffle tickets to help raise money for a local softball team. Some of the pencils Faust used were also from the Metro supply room. While Faust denied this activity was a raffle, investigators disagreed.
“This would be considered gambling, which is illegal,” Sawyers says.
Investigators also examined whether Faust was surfing the Web for personal use. Through the help of Metro’s Information Services Division, they installed a trap on his computer, which later showed that Faust made 35 investment transactions on Schwab.com on four different days. Faust told investigators that he was only checking the balance of his IRA accountand only then before work or during lunch. A polygraph test indicated that he was not being truthful about the nature of his computer use.
Another example of bad judgment: Faust had an inmate who was assigned to the supply room help him move a couch from his home in Nashville to an apartment in Smyrna. The Sheriff’s Department assigns certain low-security inmates to work in various Metro departments, including the police supply room. When investigators asked Faust if he thought moving the couch was the wrong thing to do, Faust replied that he “should have got a U-Haul or pickup truck.” The investigator then reminded him that he probably should not have brought an inmate with him, and Faust agreed. He also admitted that even his wife told him that he’d made a mistake.
Faust could not be reached for comment, but his lawyer, Richard Braun, said that the investigative file on his client contains “errors.” As an example, Braun points out that the file says that Faust eventually admitted to making up to 10 trades on his Metro computer; however, Braun says the actual number is much lower.
The Office of Professional Accountability charged Faust with violating five general orders and two civil service rules. His infractions included failing “to adhere to the law,” not devoting his entire shift time to official duty, and using departmental property for a purpose other than official business.
At his disciplinary hearing last month, Faust was given the option of resigning. He did.
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