A former Mobile Police officer who resigned amid an internal investigation and another who was recently terminated were arrested Wednesday on charges of felony theft and using their position for personal gain.
Former Sgt. Mark Hearn turned himself in at the Mobile County Metro Jail Wednesday morning and has since posted bail and been released. Officer Alex Westry, who was terminated from a position in the Mobile Police Department’s impound last week, was also arrested around 3 p.m. the same day.
Both men are facing charges for theft and using their now-former positions for personal gain.
Electronically accessible court records do not show an indictment for Hearn or Westry at the moment, but Hearn was the subject of an internal investigation within MPD and a review by the Mobile County District Attorney’s office earlier this year. He resigned during those probes on Feb. 12 after a 23-year career.
According to a source with knowledge of the department’s operations, Hearn was accused of improperly accessing MPD’s impound lot through an adjacent radio shop and taking items from vehicles — an incident that was reportedly captured in security footage from outside the impound yard. The contents of impounded cars are supposed to be sold at regular public auctions hosted by MPD.
It’s still unclear what the nature of Westry’s charges are.
Though he couldn’t confirm any of the details, MPD Chief Lawrence Battiste told Lagniappe in February, Hearn was the subject of an internal investigation when he resigned. At the time, Battiste discussed Hearn’s resignation and a second officer who left the force during an internal probe in December.
In the previous interview, Battiste said there’s not much he or his staff can do if an officer chooses to leave the job while they are under investigation by MPD.
“The results of both of these investigations were turned over to the district attorney’s office for review,” Battiste said at the time. “We do that out of an abundance of caution when there is any case where we believe potential wrongdoings may have occurred.”
Battiste has yet to comment on the arrest of Hearn and Westry, but last fall, he announced an extensive internal investigation into MPD’s impound yard after it was discovered the unit was failing to following certain provisions of a city ordinance that governs towing vehicles.
Since then, there have been multiple shake-ups within the impound unit including leadership changes, resignations, retirements and terminations.
Westry and Hearn are the first two employees or former employees who’ve faced any kind of criminal charges, though.
Another impound employee, former officer Matthew Gargan, was suspended and eventually dismissed from his post last September. An MPD spokesperson confirmed at the time said the department doesn’t release information about personnel decisions unless they’re appealed by the affected employee.
Gargan initially did just that and was scheduled to contest his suspension and termination in a hearing before the Mobile County Personnel Board last October. However, on the morning of the hearing, the appeal was withdrawn after MPD agreed to modify Gargan’s dismissal and list it as a resignation instead.
The agreement was reached between Gargan’s attorney and MPD attorney Wanda Rahman, both of whom declined to comment on what led to Gargan’s initial dismissal after the meeting adjourned.
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