State Capitol police chief suspended over off-duty work

jneff@newsobserver.comFebruary 3, 2013 

Antonio “Tony” Asion

The acting chief and a sergeant at the Capitol Police are under investigation for alleged improprieties involving off-duty work, the Secretary of Public Safety announced Sunday evening.

"I have serious concerns about certain practices involving secondary employment," Secretary Kieran Shanahan said in a news release. "We will conduct a thorough investigation and take action as deemed appropriate.

“So as not to compromise this ongoing investigation, nor publicly reveal personnel matters, the department will not provide additional details at this time."

The Capitol Police is a small agency that provides security at government buildings downtown and at other state-owned properties. Many police officers work security — at businesses such as night clubs and grocery stores — but must receive specific approval from supervisors.

Acting Chief Antonio Asion, one of the police force members under investigation, joined the agency in August 2012 and earns an annual salary of $67,839.

A native of Havana, Cuba, Asion retired in 2004 after 20 years with the Delaware Highway Patrol. In 2004, he moved to North Carolina and became the public safety director and later executive director with the non-profit organization El Pueblo, a Raleigh organization that advocates for Latinos. He joined the State Bureau of Investigation in 2011.

"Asion had filled in as the police chief following the death in September of Chief W. Scott Hunter, who died after a long illness."

Sgt. Benjamin Franklin, the other force member being investigated, has been a state employee since 1994. He earns a salary of $45,502. Neither Asion or Franklin could be reached Sunday evening.

The news release announcing the investigation was released at 6:13 p.m. on Sunday, an unusual time for a government press release regarding a personnel matter. Pam Walker, a spokeswoman for the agency, said the department only learned about the allegations on Friday afternoon.

Shanahan, a lawyer and former prosecutor, took office in January under the administration of Gov. Pat McCrory. He named Major William Gray of the State Highway Patrol as acting chief while the investigation is ongoing.

The Capitol Police have been in the news in the past, and not always for positive reasons.

The Capitol Police has a history of hiring State Highway Patrol troopers who were fired or resigned under undisclosed conditions. The hires included a trooper fired for having sex with his girlfriend at a deserted weigh station on his lunch break and another trooper who allegedly altered test scores for applicants favored by a supervisor.

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