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Whistleblower Suit Filed Against DMV Chief

Posted July 17, 2007

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— A longtime inspector with the state Division of Motor Vehicles filed suit Tuesday against the division, claiming he was fired for questioning the improper approval of a title for a friend of DMV Commissioner George Tatum.

Joey Gardner also names the state Department of Transportation, Tatum and other DMV officials in the suit. A hearing is scheduled on the matter for Wednesday morning.

Gardner alleges he has been harassed by DMV officials in recent weeks after it came to light that a friend of Tatum's obtained a title three years ago to a replica 1937 Ford pickup that states the vehicle is a vintage truck. Gardner wrote a memo to his superiors that he was concerned Tatum might be trying to help out a friend by getting the truck listed as authentic, which would amount to fraud.

"Then, all of a sudden, when he reports honestly things connected to his job, he's immediately suspended from duty and subject to retaliatory evaluations," said Michael Byrne, Gardner's attorney.

Both Tatum and the owner of the truck have denied any wrongdoing or a secret deal. They both declined to comment on the suit.

Byrne filed the suit under the state Whistleblower Act, saying that while Gardner hasn't lost his job, his gun has been confiscated and he has been forced to undergo unnecessary psychological exams.

"It sends a bad signal to all state employees that, if you do your job and you happen to run afoul of a political issue, that your superiors could use a policy that's designed to help people in mental health emergencies to cast a stigma of mental unfitness on you," Byrne said.


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  • lovecarolinagutters Jul 18, 2007

    Something should be done about this. Seems Gardner has had a career in law enforcement as one of the good guys. Fired for doing the right thing? And we wonder why the world is in such a state of disarray. I hope someone steps up and does the right thing for this man. As for Tatum he should be fired, yesterday.

  • slappyh99 Jul 18, 2007

    The end of my last post should read; This just goes to show that if you are an honest person and do your job, the crooks in state politics will do what ever they can to get rid of you.

  • slappyh99 Jul 18, 2007

    Janeybelle I must tell you that I’ve known Joey Gardner for over 20 years. Joey is one of; if not the most honest people I have ever met. I’m also in law enforcement and have worked with Joey before he ever went to work with DMV. I’m not surprised that this is happening to Joey because Joey is going to do what’s right. And trying to get a kit car registered as authentic because the owner is a friend of Commissioner Tatum is not only wrong, but it’s fraud. Joey does what is right and Tatum tries to silence him with political pressure. Tatum’s friend gets a tax break and when he sells the truck some unsuspecting buyer will pay thousands more that it’s worth because it has an authentic title. It appears from the emails that Tatum is the one that screwed up. Hopefully the SBI will be allowed to conduct an investigation without any political pressure. Gov. Easley should take a close look at his department heads and weed out the corruption starting with TATUM. This jus

  • tiredofgovtwaste Jul 18, 2007

    Janeybelle you must work for or be related to Mr. Tatum as everyone else sees him in a different light. What might seem like deal above the table is not always that. Let's face it, we all try to do the best we can but few of lie or try to defend our actions later by trying to cover it up.

  • HadEnough Jul 18, 2007

    I think this is the straw. We need to get the FBI in here.

  • wizard633 Jul 18, 2007

    DMV does just about what they want. They even break their own policies if it suits them & answer to no-one! Corrupt? You better believe it. Abuse of power? Better believe that too!

  • HadEnough Jul 18, 2007

    I would like to run for Governor and here is what I would do first. 1) Fire every politically appointed person in state government. I owe no one any favors. 2) Centralize State Personnel including wage and salary administration. This would save a bunch of money. 3) Bust up DOT. Too many suits there. Would anyone here vote for me?

  • computer trainer Jul 18, 2007

    If I were governor, I would start by getting rid of ALL of the political appointees that we have sitting around getting fat and sassier. Put some new blood in there, people who know how to work and straighten this government out. It is nothing but corrupt!

  • HadEnough Jul 18, 2007

    When I'm elected Governor, one of my first tasks will be to bust up DOT/DMV. That agency is this states biggest money pit.

  • mvnull Jul 18, 2007

    'there are crooks, liars, etc, everywhere, what makes you think the state government employees are any less human than anyone else?'

    The department heads in state government have the means and power to abuse it. It isn't much different than the crooks in business who skim from their customers and shareholders. It isn't just a question of "being human", it is the opportunity to make great mischief because of power.

    I have to say that NC probably deserves the crooks in power. As far as abuse of power, NC is not much different than many third world countries.