WRAL Investigates

Probation official warned twice before demotion

Posted September 11, 2009 1:58 p.m. EDT
Updated September 11, 2009 5:16 p.m. EDT

— A Wake County probation supervisor who was demoted last year during a shake-up in the state's probation system was warned twice previously about her job performance and conduct, WRAL News has learned.

Cindy Faison recently settled with the state Department of Correction over her challenge to the demotion and was reinstated to the position of chief probation and parole officer and awarded back. She now works in Johnston County.

Eleven managers in the Division of Community Corrections, including Faison, were transferred, demoted or retired last year during a state review of the agency's operations that was prompted by the slayings of two area college students.

Duke University graduate student Abhijit Mahato was shot and killed in his Durham apartment on Jan. 18, 2008, and Eve Carson, the student body president at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, was robbed, shot and dumped on a street near the Chapel Hill campus on March 5, 2008.

Police charged Laurence Alvin Lovette Jr. with murder in both cases, and they charged Demario James Atwater in Carson's slaying. Both were on probation at the time of the shootings, but probation officers didn't follow up on their cases.

Faison supervised the probation officers in charge of Atwater's file. An internal review found that Faison flagged problems with Atwater's supervision several times but that his case was basically untouched for 13 months after March 2006.

"The investigation revealed that you did not offer direction and guidance to (the probation officer) as was needed so that effective case management and effective job performance could be achieved," Robert Guy, former director of the Division of Community Corrections, said in a July 31, 2008, letter to Faison. "You should have done case reviews in the month they were due, made certain that all issues involving any cases were resolved by him within the required time frame and ensured that policy was followed in the supervision of offenders."

Guy noted in the letter that Faison received a written warning in April 2007 for poor job performance and a second written warning a month later for unacceptable personal conduct.

Faison told her managers that she thought Atwater's file had been transferred to Durham County, but they noted that she never followed up with Durham probation officials about it, according to Guy's letter.

A second probation supervisor who was recently reinstated after challenging her demotion also was warned about poor job performance, according to an Aug. 1, 2008, letter from Guy.

Cheryl Morris regained her job as a chief probation and parole officer in Durham County following a settlement with the Department of Correction.

Morris fought her demotion because of a 2006 illness that required chemotherapy, contending she was never provided any relief from her workload.

Internal committees in the Department of Correction upheld the decision to demote both women last summer.

Despite assurances of government transparency by Gov. Beverly Perdue and Correction Secretary Alvin Keller, the department won't disclose the reasons behind the reinstatements.