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Former APD chief of staff cleared of major wrongdoing

Former APD Chief of Staff John Ross (APD)

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

An internal affairs investigation requested by the former Albuquerque police chief into his own chief of staff has found no major violations, according to a department spokesman.

Gilbert Gallegos, an APD spokesman, said the investigation found “John Ross did not violate any major procurement policies related to department purchases in the chief’s office. The investigation also found no wrong doing regarding Ross’ pay raise which was appropriately approved by Chief (Michael) Geier.”

Gallegos said the investigation found that the only violation Ross committed was he did not list two items he bought on his property card within the three-day deadline. However, Gallegos said, the items were listed on the card.

Although Ross was cleared of wrongdoing, he has left APD, along with other members of Geier’s executive team.

Geier was told to retire in early September, and his last day was Friday. Ross did not comment to the Journal on Monday.

“Ross was hired by Chief Geier to serve as his Chief of Staff,” Gallegos wrote in a news release. “Ross, along with other members of Chief Geier’s executive team, ended their time with APD (Friday). The Chief’s third appointed staff member, Officer Elder Guevara, retired earlier this month.”

In mid-July, then-Police Chief Geier requested internal affairs investigate Ross for personal and professional misconduct, altering, misrepresenting or falsifying verbal or written statements, and not safeguarding department property.

The complaint says that Ross had bypassed protocol when he purchased an Apple laptop computer and an Apple TV box.

“I had not seen either the laptop or the TV device in Ross’s office and later learned that a memo was generated allegedly by me to authorize the purchase of these items,” Geier wrote in the complaint. “A copy of that document appeared to bear my signature stamp. … I had never been asked by John Ross if it would be ok to purchase the computer or TV device and did not give authorization for anyone to use my stamp to approve these purchases.”

The complaint also states that Ross had gone above Geier’s head to get a hefty raise. Geier said he signed the memo for the raise but “did not remember seeing the actual amount of the raise being listed on his memo or did not look at it with any scrutiny since I trusted John.”

Gallegos did not provide the internal investigation, but said it found no wrongdoing because investigators concluded that Ross had the authority to authorize the purchase of the laptop and the Apple TV box himself and those purchases were used for official purposes.

“In some cases, investigators determined allegations were unfounded and the alleged misconduct did not occur,” Gallegos added.

Thomas Grover, an attorney representing Geier’s former assistant who had notified Geier of the purchases, said he and his client, Paulette Diaz, had not seen the internal affairs investigation.

He said she is unclear about whether she can continue working for the city as a classified employee.

As a member of Geier’s executive team she had been told to leave the Albuquerque Police Department. But Diaz had already been gone from APD for more than a month since she had been transferred to the Animal Welfare Department during the internal affairs investigation – and then to the Solid Waste Department when she began having allergy attacks.

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