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Facing lawsuit, mayoral appointee moved to more secure post

Caleb James
October 12, 2017 10:24 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- The City of Albuquerque's Family and Community Services director is being sued, accused of retaliating against an employee who says she refused to cut corners.

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Add an embezzlement charge from the 1990s, and it might come as a surprise to learn Doug Chaplin is one of the political appointees Mayor Richard Berry's office wants to move into a secure city job.

Chaplin was appointed to his current role, but the clock is ticking on the Berry administration. On Thursday, KOB learned Chaplin is being moved into a permanent position amidst some serious allegations.

Albuquerque's inspector general took notice of Berry's political appointees being transitioned into secure positions with the city in the mayor's final months. In a September letter, the IGO expressed concern over the practice.

When asked about that letter, Chief Administrative Officer Rob Perry dismissed the concerns in an interview with KOB.

"I can't really respond to all the crazy things the critics might say," Perry said on September 27. "But I can say each one of these individuals has stellar accomplishments and records of achievement."

Who are those individuals? One identified by Perry is Chaplin. His political appointment is being transitioned into a permanent post with the city. He legally qualifies for the move. It is the same job, only more protected.

"I just don't know how anybody can have confidence in our leadership when they're not handling funding in a responsible manner," Albuquerque attorney Leon Howard said.

Howard said he's shocked the administration is working to keep Chaplin. He's currently the defendant in a whistleblower retaliation lawsuit filed in Bernalillo County District Court.

Howard said his client Chandelle Chavez worked for Chaplin. When she questioned the handling of Housing and Urban Development funds, Howard said she was promptly reassigned to a different office.

There, Howard said she reported city contractors for double billing but was asked to change her findings. When she didn't, Howard said she was fired.

Chaplin also faced criminal embezzlement charges in 1995. The charges were dismissed in late 1997 only after Chaplin paid the alleged victim's money back in full, according to court records.

In a statement to KOB, Perry reiterated the 1995 matter was settled by the parties.

"Unfortunately, allegations get levied against government employers in their role as manager and we defend those through the court process," he said. "As a matter of law, Mr. Chaplin is entitled to be reinstated to a classified position with the city, as he meets all eligibility requirements."

Credits

Caleb James

Copyright 2017 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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