The City Council overrode a mayoral veto Tuesday to file a notice of a potential bond claim against former police officer Patricia De Nardo on the grounds of payroll fraud.
The council’s decision to override the veto was unanimous, as was the initial resolution passed Nov. 22, which connected De Nardo to an ongoing joint investigation by federal authorities and the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office.
So far, no charges have been filed.
The council’s resolution, which can now be carried out, directed city attorney Trent Favre to file a notice of a potential claim against De Nardo’s surety bond.
A surety bond is a financial guarantee for the performance of certain duties. A state statute requires most county and municipal officials to purchase surety bonds, which are typically sold by insurance companies and vary in cost and coverage amount. De Nardo was bonded for $25,000, the minimum required for a police officer.
If the city makes a claim, it could recoup any money that was illegally taken, up to $25,000.
Mayor Les Fillingame had vetoed the resolution, saying the investigation was not yet concluded and “any premature, arbitrary or false claims could create unnecessary liability for the city.”
News of the investigation quickly spread after De Nardo’s husband, Police Chief Mike De Nardo, fatally shot himself Sept. 8.
Sheriff Ricky Adam said his office had begun investigating the Police Department as well as other city departments and officials in mid-2016.
While discussing the veto Tuesday, council members asked Favre for a legal opinion on the matter.
“Do you feel a notice of a potential claim would be ‘premature, arbitrary or false,’ in your opinion?” Councilman Joey Boudin said.
As Favre thought about his response, Boudin pressed him further and said, “You were briefed.”
Boudin was referring to a briefing by law enforcement authorities for certain city officials within the last few months. The briefing contained confidential information and evidence related to the investigation.
“In this particular instance, I don’t think there’s a problem putting them on notice of a potential claim,” Favre said.