Misappropriation of public funds: a former Guérande municipal police officer challenges his dismissal in court

Misappropriation of public funds: a former Guérande municipal police officer challenges his dismissal in court

The case of suspected embezzlement of public funds at the Guérande town hall before the administrative court ©Cathy Ryo

The former chief of the police of the city of Guérande (Loire-Atlantique) this Tuesday, September 20, 2022, asked a judge in the chambers of the administrative court of Nantes to urgently suspend his dismissal from public service after being accused of embezzlement. public funds.

Overtime since 2004

On March 9, 2022, the mayor of Guérande, Nicolas Criaud, filed a complaint against X for embezzlement of public funds after overtime payments.

Audit within the framework of the creation of a multi-city police force (connection Guérande, La Turballe, Assérac, Saint-Molf and Férel), next, internal to town hall in Guérande for the compliance of civil servants’ working hours with the 35-hour law, revealed that Guérande municipal police officers were paid an average of €600 each month for “overtime” they allegedly worked on Sundays.

The “system” was introduced in 2004 to “fill understaffing” in the service and to address the “significant constraints” placed on municipal police officers, such as “working weekends or nights”, as explained during hearing from the lawyer of the former police officer, Me Erwan Le Moigne.

The mayor “always validated” his payslips.

“Day and night to respond to the calls of our colleagues and elected representatives”, the former head of the municipal police was dismissed on September 2, 2022 by the mayor of Guérande, despite the adverse opinion issued the day before “to unanimity” by the disciplinary board: according to the calculations of the municipality, ” diverted more than €500,000.

But “this administrative investigation is slanderous and violates the principle of the presumption of innocence,” criticized the current president of the Saint-Nazaire bar.

“My client went from a category C civil servant to a category B only in 2008, while the system was introduced in 2004… So it is not possible that he was at its birth,” the plaintiff’s lawyer also noted.

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“Mr Criaud was elected in 2018: you can imagine he always verified my client’s payslips showing these overtime hours, as did DGS [directeur général des services, ndlr] and HRD [Directeur des ressources humaines, ndlr] ! ”, Erwan Le Moigne pointed out to me again.

“Without mistake”

Finally, the lawyer highlighted the fact that the civil servant had been “promoted” to “commander of the peace” before the revelation of the affair, which he said meant that his hierarchy had nothing to blame him for.

Today, these “baseless allegations” are therefore “impacting the health and morale” of his client, who has worked “for 22 years in public safety” with an “excellent rating.” His dismissal also has a “significant impact” on his income.

“No element comes to prove the existence of any error,” repeated I Erwan Le Moigne. “My client has always explained that he had no authority over the introduction of this overtime system. »

“false statements”

“To listen to my colleague, his client is a public servant of integrity… Go ahead, there’s nothing to see,” responded city attorney Me Eric Boucher. “Initially, he was definitely not a category B civil servant, but he had the rank of brigade chief and already had supervisory duties.”

A lawyer for the city of Guérande also assured the judge that the city’s police force is a “somewhat independent service” and “benefits from a great deal of autonomy.”

“It was he who laid down the breakdowns in purely internal documents that remained with the service and were not handed over to HRD. He was also the one who submitted the payroll variables to the HR department each month. »

“We can certainly blame things on this system, which has since been fixed, but the gentleman is really responsible for these false statements,” added Me Eric Boucher. “He also spontaneously acknowledged that it was a compensatory measure, saying that elected officials don’t want to hire and that the job has to be done well. »

“Serious Breach”

“However, the city constable must be approved by the prefect and the prosecutor to verify his morals and integrity,” Me Eric Boucher reminded. “He takes an oath to respect ethics… But here we are faced with a serious breach of the duty of integrity. »

According to him, the former head of the city police was not “promoted”, he “benefited from internal mobility”.

There is also no “urgency” for counsel to suspend the dismissal of an officer who has produced “absolutely no document” likely to demonstrate the actual loss of his income in connection with his dismissal.

“The gentleman did not hesitate to combine his civil servant remuneration with that of the private sector during his suspension: he worked as a watchman at night to watch the port of Pornichet… I have supporting documents”, confirmed Mr Eric Boucher.

The former city police chief would personally receive “44,723 euros” thanks to these overtime hours “increased by two thirds”, which should have been carried out on Sunday and which “largely never happened”.

In this context, the city’s lawyer says that he does not understand the unfavorable opinion of the disciplinary committee.

The chambers judge, who reserved his decision, will issue an order in the coming days.

GF (PressPepper)

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