DPS chief finds stay-at-home trooper 'deliberately untruthful,' upholds firing
Posted August 30
Updated September 1
Raleigh, N.C. — Secretary of Public Safety Erik Hooks has upheld the firing of a State Highway Patrol sergeant whom WRAL Investigates found at home last fall when he was supposed to be working.
Sgt. Maurice DeValle was fired from his $69,000-a-year job on April 25, but he appealed the termination up through the ranks of the Highway Patrol and the Department of Public Safety.
WRAL Investigates spent weeks tracking DeValle on various days he was scheduled to work and routinely found his cruiser in the driveway of his Wake County home while he was on the clock, including while other Highway Patrol troopers were working overtime during and after Hurricane Matthew responding to stranded drivers and keeping people off flooded roads.
On at least four occasions from early October to mid-November, DeValle was at home despite reporting that he was on the road or on duty in Wayne County, where the 18-year Highway Patrol veteran was one of the agency's highest-ranking officers.
When WRAL Investigates took its information to the Highway Patrol on Nov. 11, Lt. J.C. Morton went to DeValle's house and found him there 4½ hours after he had supposedly started his shift, according to DeValle's Aug. 7 termination letter.
"I find your excuse that you were home on that occasion because you were sick to be without any credibility whatsoever," Hooks wrote in the letter, saying DeValle never reported the sickness to his supervisors or checked out for the day.
The patrol's internal investigation found six days from late September through mid-October when DeValle falsified timesheets either by claiming to work more hours in the payroll system that he actually worked, according to the times he clocked in and out or simply clocking in and staying home for part of all of his shift.
Investigators also determined that DeValle should have put at least 702 miles on his patrol car to commute to Wayne County for eight shifts between Sept. 22 and Oct. 6. But the fuel logs showed the cruiser had been driven only 292 miles during that time, even though DeValle reported driving 767 miles in his weekly activity reports.
"Mathematically, you could not have gone to the office on more than 3 occasions during this period of time," Hooks wrote in the termination letter.
Although DeValle was cited in his firing for insubordination and violating Highway Patrol policy by living outside his duty area, Hooks said he was upholding the move because DeValle had neglected his duties and was "deliberately untruthful."
"Your above-described pattern of deliberately misrepresenting information concerning your work activities has embarrassed the Highway Patrol and discredited you personally," Hooks wrote. "Your demonstrated pattern of behavior demonstrates a willingness on your part to be deliberately untruthful, calls into question your credibility as a member of the Highway Patrol and severely impairs your ability to testify in court as a sworn law enforcement officer."
DeValle, who now works as a school resource officer for the Columbus County Sheriff's Office, has appealed Hooks' decision to the state Office of Administrative Hearings.