Fla. police chief nears termination

March 7, 2013 at 3:36 PM
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BAL HARBOUR, Ga., March 7 (UPI) -- Thomas Hunker, the police chief of Bal Harbour, Fla., is negotiating a severance package with the village following a misconduct investigation, officials said.

Suspended since December over allegations of mishandling millions of dollars on unjustified overtime, lavish travel and questionable payments to confidential informants, Hunker, 61, is expected to be terminated soon, the Miami Herald said Thursday.

The U.S. Department of Justice alleges police in the quiet coastal community of 2,500 in three years misspent $7.3 million received under a federal forfeiture program. The money was generated by village police, partnering with federal agents, to investigate drug dealers and money launderers far outside the borders of Bal Harbour.

Investigators say the police also used part of the receipts to pay for a $100,000 power boat and a $225,000 surveillance truck.

A trailer, used by Bal Harbour detectives and a symbolic connection to the forfeiture program, is in the process of being demolished, WSVN-TV, Miami, reported Thursday.

"We are in discussions with them [Hunker and his attorney] to see about reaching an amicable solution to our situation. Right now it looks like it will be termination without cause, and he [Hunker] will receive a 20-week severance package," said Jay Smith, Bal Harbour interim police manager.

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