Misconduct charges dropped

Jacob Lane · Wednesday, March 15, 2017
Charges were dismissed against former West Liberty City Manager Chris Ward in March for a case that alleged felonious misconduct.

Mr. Ward had been accused of directing a city employee to change the city's electrical billing rate without proper authorization from the city.

As a result, the City of West Liberty overcharged residents a total of $259,231.50 between the dates of May 15, 2013 and Jan. 15, 2014 according to a state audit.

However, the Iowa Court of Appeals ruled in favor of West Liberty’s former city manager in March. Mr. Ward had originally requested a dismissal of the charge.

Mr. Ward is currently the City Manager of Vinton, Iowa. He told the council there his two-year legal battle was over during a meeting March 10 according to Vinton Today.

The case in question revolves around a series of ordinances; specifically, that Mr. Ward had repealed a 2007 ordinance with a 1998 ordinance.

However, according to a transcript from the court of appeals of the case entitled State of Iowa vs. Chris Anthony Ward:

“The State conceded West Liberty’s 2007 ordinance did not properly repeal the 1998 ordinance, yet charged Ward with a crime predicated on repeal of the 1998 ordinance.”

“This was an error,” it states. “We reverse the district court order denying Ward’s motion to dismiss the felonious misconduct in office charge and remand for dismissal of that charge.”

The State of Iowa also charged Mr. Ward with third-degree fraudulent practices, a charge that was ultimately dismissed.

Mr. Ward was hired as the city administrator for West Liberty in 2003 and began his duties in 2004. He worked for the city for around 10 years.

However, he was terminated from his position by a 4-1 vote by the council in October 2013.

A year after his termination, November 2014, a special investigation by the State Auditor revealed electrical overcharges.

The nearly 20 page report discussed activity under the leadership of the former city manager.

The city has since rebated businesses and community members for the overcharges.

Mr. Ward used the aid of defense attorney Alfredo Parrish to fight the charges in Iowa District Court Seven. The court pushed the charge of misconduct forward.

Ultimately the Iowa Court of Appeals, which reviews appeals from trial court decisions referred to the court by the Iowa Supreme Court, dismissed the charge.
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