A veteran state Division of Motor Vehicles officer who was fired for his helping his wife service fire extinguishers at car dealerships that he regulated has been ordered reinstated.
Wes Little will take a new position with the State Capitol Police, following settlement negotiations that took place this week.
Little was fired in February after the state auditor investigated a hotline tip about him, and recommended the DMV consider firing or disciplining him in some other way. Little’s wife, a school teacher, ran a side business selling fire extinguishers to businesses and servicing them.
Little serviced extinguishers four or five times a month and was never paid for it, according to testimony during an Office of Administrative Hearings proceeding. Sometimes he picked up extinguishers on his lunch break, and the couple’s daughter also helped out on occasion.
He said he never filed a request to authorize secondary employment because he didn’t think he was required to since he was not paid for it and it wasn’t a continuous job.
Little was a law enforcement officer for the DMV’s license and theft bureau whose job was to inspect car dealerships. He did seek and received permission to be a volunteer fire and rescue employee in Southern Pines.
The DMV fired him for violating the policy on secondary employment, violating the ethics policy, for conduct unbecoming a state employee and for conduct for which no reasonable person would expect prior warning against.
Little worked for the agency for nearly 27 years, based in Charlotte and later Fayetteville, and was a lieutentant at the time he was fired..
Administrative law Judge Fred Morrison Jr. in September ruled against the firing, writing that Little had an unblemished record.
“A local fireman helping his teacher wife by servicing fire extinguishers, with no findings that it affected the performance of his DMV duties, did not constitute serious/substantial misconduct justifying his being dismissed,” Morrison wrote.
The judge ordered him reinstated with back pay and reimbursement of up to $7,500 in attorney’s fees. The state appealed the decision, but settlement talks resolved the matter this week.
Little is the son of 2004 Republican candidate for governor, George Little.