Local News

Fayetteville City Council Votes in Favor of 'Ticketgate' Probe

Posted November 14, 2007
Updated January 10, 2008

— The mayor and city manager of Fayetteville appeared before the public Tuesday night to answer questions about how they handled a traffic ticket.

Mayor Tony Chavonne and City Manager Dale Iman stand accused of giving special treatment to the wife of a former Fort Bragg commander.

The Oct. 25 accident at the intersection of Stoney Point and Gillis Hill roads involved three cars. Officer Jennifer Rodriguez, of the Fayetteville Police Department, cited Diana Knight for running a red light.

Knight's husband, Gary Knight, the deputy garrison commander at Fort Bragg before he retired, called Chavonne that evening to complain, saying he thought police were rushing to judgment. After Chavonne and Iman visited Diana Knight in Cape Fear Valley Medical Center – she was injured in the accident – the ticket was voided and police reopened the investigation.

Another driver, Jamell Rashad Jones, 21, was later charged with running the red light.

At a City Council meeting Tuesday night, Iman said "given the circumstances, I feel my actions were completely appropriate." He said Rodriguez told him there were conflicting accounts of who was at fault in the accident.

"Had I walked in there and Officer Rodriguez said, 'I interviewed the witnesses. There were no conflicting statements. They all stated that Mrs. Knight ran the red light', I would have turned around and walked out there, and said, 'Mr. Knight, your wife is going to get a ticket,'" Iman said.

Chavonne stood by his claim that he did not offer Iman any guidance with regards to the ticket.

"Mr. Iman and I did not discuss any details of the complaint. I did not instruct Mr. Iman to go to the hospital. I did not give Mr. Iman any guidance on the situation. I did not go to any traffic accident scene," Chavonne said.

The City Council voted to have an independent agency investigate the incident that has become known as "Ticketgate."

"I think there was real poor judgment used here," Fayetteville City Councilwoman Lois Kirby said.

“When you are in a position where everybody you talk to, from the patrolman up, is your subordinate, everything you say is official to them,” resident Leslie Griffith said. “You’re not just some average citizen out there taking care of a friend. You are the mayor and city manager.”

Diana Knight did not attend the City Council meeting.

The city attorney will look into whether the State Bureau of Investigation should conduct the "Ticketgate" probe.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • dhoggard2 Nov 14, 2007

    True Blue is right. THe officer should have NEVER wrote the ticket at all if there were conflicting statements. I am an insurance adjuster and WE determine fault in an accident, not a police officer and this is the VERY REASON WHY!! The ticket should never have been written and therefore why not void it??

  • Trublue in Wake County Nov 14, 2007

    Having served as a city police officer in a Wake County agency, I'm surprised that the officer even issued a citation at an accident scene that she was there to witness the cause of - running a redlight. Rear-ending someone is a different "call" that an officer can make after the fact and easy to cite. Stop signs, redlights, etc should be viewed by the officer as it occurs. She should have completed the DMV 349 and let the insurance companies battle it out. Officer's by statute do not find fault - insurance companies do. I never lost a traffic case using this analogy. JP, Fuquay PD

  • superman Nov 14, 2007

    The whole thing "stinks". Since when did the mayor and the town manager get involved in traffic accidents. It most certainly looks bad-- even if it is on the up and up. The mayor and city manager should just admit they made an error in judgment and apolize. Then the SBI investigates both of them. Both of them need to resign-- they lost their trust. The more they protest their innocence the worse it will be.

  • TLC2 Nov 14, 2007

    There was conflicting statements and no tickets should have been issued. That is the police dept. policy. That is why the ticket was voided and for no other reason. Granted it looks bad for the mayor and city manager. No reason for them to resign. The Chief of police here in Fayetteville does a great job and he has tough town to deal with. I know I live here. Only 2 persons on the Council had a problem not all of them..

  • mrr03 Nov 14, 2007

    To MTR..You are right on point.

  • carlostheass Nov 14, 2007

    "90% of people in government are crooks." -- The Instant Classic

    What a great statistic. I work in government and my experience has been the exact opposite, so I'd like to look that number up. Can you provide the source? I think it's between your ears. It matters not what percentage of people anywhere are crooked; it matters only that a handful are in positions of top authority. How many secretaries and telephone operators at Enron were crooked, and how many executives were? Please, before you go spreading ignorance at least talk to people who know what's going on.

  • lilwil Nov 14, 2007

    What a shame? The lady ran the red light, but the other person got the ticket.

    Gov't officials are dirty to the core, but yet they are the very ones hollering "zero tolerance". The dirty politicians make it difficult for ones who have integrity to bring about a change.

  • 3forme Nov 14, 2007

    "just a good ole boy"...

  • 3forme Nov 14, 2007

    pretty sad when people of influence use it in this way...it's just a ticket lady...take your points and fine like the rest of us and shut up...

  • BUCKEYEnNC Nov 14, 2007

    This is going to be such a waste of money! All over a stupid traffic ticket. If you have a ticket and you disagree, you get a lawyer like everyone else. I doubt the mayor or city manager would visit my family in the hospital over a disputed ticket.

    I have no quarrel w/Mayor Chavonne. Unfortunately, once you violate your position of trust, you can never gain it back. Sorry Tony, you gotta go and take your city manager w/you.

    That will serve as a warning to other city leaders. If you abuse you position of authority, you lose it!