Former police chief fights to clear his name - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Former police chief fights to clear his name

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GUTTENBERG (KWWL) -- Former Guttenberg Police Chief George Morteo addressed the city council Thursday for a "Name-Clearing Hearing" held in special session.  Iowa law requires people be given the opportunity to publicly clear their name after a public termination, but the city does not have to respond or change their decision based on the hearing.

Morteo says his personnel file has outright lies and half-truths that lead to his termination.   

"It's important to once again prove to the council that they've been mislead and to the community of all the facts and not the made-up things that were in my personnel file," Morteo said.

Morteo requested his file, which is not public record, after his termination and says on top of lies, the city left things out including letters of support.  The city says that was not intentional.

"We're not here to really tear George down or ruin his reputation.  There were just performance issues that were unsatisfactory, and that's why he was terminated," Mayor Jim Solomon said.

Unacceptable performance: something Solomon says he's not alone in seeing.  "I and the council have gotten several cards and letters in support."

But Morteo says the city council was convinced to vote for termination because Solomon made up negative stories that appear in the file.

When asked if he'd mislead the council, Solomon said, "Absolutely not.  Absolutely not."

Morteo maintains his termination was personal, and his attorney gave the council what she says is evidence that the mayor lied.  That packet of information is not public, according to the attorney.

"It's a vendetta.  I've definitely been discriminated by the mayor," Morteo said.

Despite recent controversy, Morteo says he still wants to serve on the force, in Guttenberg.  "This is my community.  This is where I want to... I love my job.  I always have.  This is where I want to return to."

At the hearing, Solomon said he had "absolutely no" intention of rehiring Morteo.

Morteo said he was recently hired by the Garnavillo police department as an officer.  He and his attorney say no litigation is planned, but they continue to discuss possible legal action against the city.

Online Reporter:  Jamie Grey

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