Local News

Highway Patrol will review judge's ruling

Posted November 11, 2008 6:37 p.m. EST
Updated November 11, 2008 7:49 p.m. EST

— The North Carolina Highway Patrol's commander will review with attorneys an administrative law judge's ruling that a former internal affairs officer's investigation was a rush to judgment.

The move comes following Judge Joe Webster's ruling last week that trooper Mitch Foard should be reinstated as a first sergeant because Capt. Ken Castelloe's 2006 investigation of a voicemail message that contained a racial slur was inadequate and unreasonable.

Webster also questioned the validity of the message and said the investigation was not objective, because Castelloe never asked to hear the original voicemail and never interviewed Lt. Virgil Lessane, who made the accusation.

He also questioned Lessane's credibility and said that should have been a factor in the patrol's decision to demote Foard.

Commander Col. Walter Wilson will now review the matter, patrol spokesman Capt. Everett Clendenin said in a statement late Tuesday afternoon.

"He has requested to meet with the attorney generals (sic) that represented the Highway Patrol during the hearing to discuss with them the proceeding and obtain a copy of the transcript."

Castelloe had no comment when reached by phone Monday.

Meanwhile Tuesday, John Midgette, executive director of the North Carolina Police Benevolent Association, called for a formal review, saying he is frustrated by "deceptive techniques" used during the Castelloe's investigation.

Midgette said he believes the Highway Patrol operates under a double standard.

According to Webster's decision, Castelloe said during the investigation he had the voicemail message authenticated but later testified that was not true.

"And that is not only unethical, it is unprincipled and unlawful," Midgette said.

Clendenin said Monday he was unaware of any internal investigation into Castelloe based on the judge's findings.

"What he's conveying is that the standard by which the Highway Patrol decides whether someone is investigated and/or terminated or punished is not being used for command staff as it is for rank-and-file officers," Midgette said.