The State Highway Patrol was justified in firing a trooper who juggled his work as a Robeson County commissioner and for a nonprofit organization while on duty, an administrative law judge ruled Wednesday.
Hubert Junior Sealey worked for the Highway Patrol for nine years before he was dismissed May 3. The administrative law judge’s decision for the first time details the reasons for Sealey’s firing: Doing outside work, then lying about it to his superiors.
Sealey, who is black, appealed his dismissal in court, saying the Highway Patrol did not have cause to fire him and had discriminated against him because of his race.
While working as a state trooper out of the patrol’s Lumberton office, Sealey simultaneously served as a county commissioner in Robeson County, where he was first elected in 2002. Sealey had gained permission to serve as county commissioner, according to the judge’s decision.
Records show other work done on duty
Sealey’s wife, Lindsay Sealey, was listed as the registered agent and manager of a nonprofit agency, Independent Community-Based Services, that monitors mental-health companies. Records showed the trooper made phone calls and attended meetings about the nonprofit agency, and also used a cellphone issued to him as a county commissioner while on duty. In May 2009 the patrol ordered him to stop using the county cellphone, but records showed he used it 97 times over five months while on duty.
During an internal-affairs investigation of Sealey’s work, he denied any involvement with Independent Community-Based Services, saying he was “not affiliated with it at all.”
But phone records from August 2010 and February 2011 show that Sealey made contact during work hours with a company that oversaw his wife’s agency. And the director of the N.C. Department of Mental Health, Steve Jordan, said that during meetings with Hubert and Linda Sealey, Hubert “was truly acting (as) part of the company at the meeting” and “80 to 85 percent” of dialogue was between him and Hubert.
A hearing was held in December. In his ruling issued Wednesday, Judge Fred Morrison said that the patrol’s decision to fire Sealey should not be reversed. Morrison concluded that Sealey’s violations of truthfulness and secondary employment rules, along with his violating orders to not use his commissioner cellphone while on duty, constituted “unacceptable personal conduct.”