ALBANY, Ga. — Albany city officials are currently working to meet a deadline issued by a Dougherty County court to tabulate exactly how much back pay it owes to a former Albany firefighter.
Joseph Pait was fired by then-Albany Fire Chief James Arrowwood one week after accepting a plea agreement in Lee County in which he agreed to plead guilty to criminal trespass and theft charges in exchange for first-offender status.
Pait appealed the decision to Janice Allen-Jackson, who was the Albany city manager at the time. Allen-Jackson upheld Arrowwood’s termination, prompting Pait to sue for wrongful termination.
In January 2010, Chief Superior Court Judge Willie Lockette ruled that Pait should be reinstated to the fire department pending his recertification as a firefighter by the Georgia Firefighter Standards and Training Council, which he got in the latter part of 2011.
On April 27, Lockette issued an order giving the city until May 10 to give the court its best guess as to the amount Pait is owed in back pay between the time he was terminated in 2003 and the time he was reinstated in January 2010.
While city officials continue to work on the figure, some privy to the discussions said that the total is in the six-figure range and could top $400,000.
Lockette has placed a gag order on the case, which prevents city officials from speaking directly on the matter. A letter written in 2004 by Allen-Jackson shows the reasoning for Pait’s termination.
“I do not contest that you were released and given probation under the auspices of First Offender Treatment; however, this does not negate the fact that you entered a guilty plea for the charges brought against you,” Jackson wrote. “Furthermore, I feel that your continued employment with the city of Albany would jeopardize the high standard of trust our community bestows upon its employees.”
The city is being represented by the attorney for what was known as the Georgia Interlocal Risk Management Agency, who held the city’s risk management portfolio at the time of the Pait’s termination, while Pait is being represented by local attorney Maurice King.
When the two parties agree on the amount of back pay owed Pait, Lockette will then sign the final order on the case, at which time the city will likely file an appeal.