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Published August 26, 2010, 12:00 AM

UPDATED: Lawyer: Suspended Moorhead fire chief released no confidential homicide data

MOORHEAD – Moorhead police are looking into whether the city’s fire chief, Joel Hewitt, shared confidential information about a double homicide investigation with someone he wasn’t supposed to, according to an attorney with a law firm that is representing Hewitt.

By: Dave Olson, INFORUM

MOORHEAD – Moorhead police are looking into whether the city’s fire chief, Joel Hewitt, shared confidential information about a double homicide investigation with someone he wasn’t supposed to, according to an attorney with a law firm that is representing Hewitt.

“My understanding is, he (Hewitt) didn’t do it. He wouldn’t have had any crime scene information to know, or share, and he’s cooperated with that investigation,” said Trevor Oliver, an attorney with Kelly & Lemmons, a law firm in the Twin Cities.

Moorhead City Manager Michael Redlinger, who on Tuesday placed Hewitt on administrative leave with pay, said Wednesday the city is looking into allegations of “official misconduct,” but would disclose no details.

Moorhead Mayor Mark Voxland said the city’s internal investigation is civil, not criminal.

However, there is a separate investigation being done by police, according to Moorhead Police Chief David Ebinger.

Ebinger said he couldn’t discuss specifics of an active investigation, though he confirmed Hewitt was the subject of the probe.

Oliver said when police contacted Hewitt to ask him questions, Hewitt contacted the law firm, after which he agreed to talk to a police detective.

Before the law firm gave the OK for Hewitt to talk to police, Oliver said he first had a conversation with a police detective to find out what they wanted to know.

Oliver said the detective told him authorities were looking into claims made by a woman who said Hewitt told her details about the scene of the double homicide.

He said police wanted to know whether anything was disclosed that could harm the case.

“Really, they’re doing it to understand what had been released. What damage, if any, had actually been done to their investigation as far as details they were trying to keep under wraps and any witnesses that might have been compromised,” Oliver said.

“My sense from Joel is, there are none, there couldn’t have been any,” he added.

Redlinger said late today that he had no further comment to make on the situation at this time.

For more details, read Friday’s Forum.

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