Under the Dome

Fired ex-ALE director’s hearing wraps up

The hearing for the fired former head of the state’s alcohol law enforcement agency wrapped up this week after testimony that his self-imposed demotion and re-assignment to his home district was approved by higher-ups.

Former N.C. Department of Public Safety Secretary Reuben Young testified that he approved John Ledford’s reassignment as an agent to the Asheville district. Young said he checked with the department’s human resources and the director of the Office of State Personnel, and believed the move was legal and ethical.

In advance of the new Republican administration of Gov. Pat McCrory, Ledford vacated his position as director of the state Alcohol Law Enforcement division and took a pay cut – although one that made him the highest-paid agent in the state – and took a vacant position that was transferred from Wilmington to Asheville. An ALE agent filed a grievance over the move because the opening hadn’t been posted.

In April, then-DPS Secretary Kieran Shanahan and then-Commissioner of Law Enforcement Frank Perry fired Ledford, saying Ledford didn’t have the authority to make that move. (Perry replaced Shanahan after he resigned in July.)

Ledford contested, and claimed that he was only fired because of his political affiliation as a Democrat.

An administrative law judge will rule later this month.