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Ex-employee alleges improper security check

ALBANY, Ga. -- The man city officials fired last month for taking excess building materials from a completed job at the Southwest Georgia Regional Airport and selling them says an airport police officer violated his privacy by intentionally running his vehicle through criminal databases.

Sean Reddish, who maintains he did nothing wrong or illegal when he hauled the scraps away from the airport and sold them at a local recycling company because he had permission to do so, lodged a complaint against airport police officer Eric Roney alleging Roney intentionally ran the Vehicle Identification Number of a 1993 Volvo parked at the airport even though Roney knew Reddish was the owner.

In an e-mail sent to Dougherty County District Attorney Greg Edwards, Albany Fire Chief James Carswell and Albany Police Chief John Proctor, Reddish contends he had permission from airport Director Yvette Aehle and the airport police chief to park the car near the airport's maintenance facility where he worked.

But at some point after receiving permission, Reddish contends Roney launched "his own insubordinate and unauthorized investigation."

Reddish, who wrote that he's concerned his civil rights may have been violated, asked the men to launch an investigation into the matter.

Assistant City Manager Wes Smith said Thursday he had been in contact with Aehle about the complaint and, pointing to a report Roney wrote about the incident, said it appears Roney was acting within the scope of his job by calling 911 dispatch to identify a vehicle the report states had no tag and was parked within the airport's secure zone.

According to the report, which was filed May 9, Roney wrote that after a conversation with airport Police Chief Bernard Ford he investigated the car, which he said didn't have a license plate.

Roney wrote in the report he requested the vehicle's information from 911 dispatch using its VIN, which came back to Deanna O'Hilley with no registration and no insurance.

The report goes on to state since Roney knew of no employee by that name, he collected the information, returned to the station, notified Ford and then requested a tow truck for the vehicle.

The final line of the report states that Ford advised Roney to write a report and that he will "once again" talk with Aehle on the security issue related to the vehicle.

Further down the report is a handwritten statement that says, "The Volvo in question belongs to Sean Reddish and is authorized to be on airport property. YA."

In a separate e-mail addressed to Edwards and Proctor and sent to The Herald on Thursday afternoon, Reddish gives further details and says a few days before the incident with the vehicle he and his girlfriend, who were at the airport to watch a Navy F/A-18 depart,

were "aggressively questioned" by Roney and the car was parked at an adjacent building where he typically parks.

Reddish told The Herald on Thursday he is considering filing a federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint against the city and believes there is possible evidence of retaliation against him.

Reddish's complaint is the latest chapter in an ongoing story that started when Reddish was arrested for taking building materials from the airport and selling them earlier this year.

Still fighting the charges and awaiting trial, Reddish said he believes that the city failed to follow its own personnel policy when officials fired him last month and that he was treated differently than other employees under similar circumstances.

Smith said the city stands behind the handling of the Reddish case and that one of the key factors in Reddish's case is that, while he admitted no wrongdoing, he did admit taking the materials from the airport and selling them, all while believing he had permission to do so.

Smith said the city's personnel management system allows for dismissal for such things as misconduct and using one's job for personal profit.