A former New Orleans police officer fired for allegedly writing a bad check nearly nine years ago is appealing his dismissal, his attorney says, on the grounds that the incident happened before he was on the force and had no effect on his job performance.
Jeremy Wilcox, fired Tuesday for violating the Police Department’s policy on moral conduct, intends to appeal his dismissal to the Civil Service Commission, according to his attorney, Donovan Livaccari.
Wilcox was arrested last July in St. John the Baptist Parish when, during a traffic stop for driving without a license plate, a deputy found he had an outstanding warrant in St. Charles Parish, where he’d written a bad check in 2004.
The check was in the amount of $2,505.
Deputy Chief Darryl Albert said Wednesday night that the decision to fire Wilcox, who was on the force for six years, was justified because the officer admitted during a Public Integrity Bureau hearing that he had known about the bad check since July 2011.
Albert said in a prepared statement that the only action Wilcox took “was to contact an attorney and advise the attorney he didn’t have the funds to cover the check.”
For a year, Albert wrote, Wilcox “did nothing to address the debt or contact the court. Although he was aware of the felony warrant for Issuing Worthless Checks, he continued coming to work, arresting other people on felony charges.”
Wilcox was pulled over in St. John the Baptist Parish for driving a truck that did not have a license plate, Albert said.
During his Public Integrity Bureau hearing, Wilcox said he removed the license plate to avoid getting a parking ticket around the 2nd District police station on Magazine Street and Napoleon Avenue since it was Carnival Season.
Albert said that when the deputy stopped Wilcox five months later the plate was not reattached, though it was in the truck. The action, police said, was an attempt to avoid being picked up on the charge of issuing a worthless check.
Livaccari, an attorney for the local lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police who represented Wilcox during his Public Integrity Bureau hearing, said there was no attempts to defraud anyone with the check.
Wilcox wrote the check to an air conditioning supply house while he worked as an air conditioning contractor, Livaccari said, adding that Wilcox continued to work with that supply house and never heard about the bounced check.
Livaccari said Wilcox passed a pre-employment background check with the NOPD that did not reveal any warrants for him and only found the warrant when he ran his own license plate one day to make sure a piece of software in his cruiser was properly working.
At that point, Livaccari said, Wilcox contacted an attorney in an effort to resolve the issue, though Livaccari could not say if there was ever any “real resolution.”
Livaccari argues that the NOPD’s claims that Wilcox tried to brush off the matter and then avoid getting caught by removing his license plate is “a reach.”
“There’s no evidence of that,” he said.