LPD sergeant fired in sex scandal reinstated

Lakeland, Florida -- An arbitrator has ordered Lakeland to rehire one of the police sergeants who had been fired last July for having sex on the job.

"I'm sure the citizens are frustrated," said city spokesman Kevin Cook.

After an embarrassing police department sex scandal that dragged the city's name through the mud, the arbitrator has ordered Lakeland to rehire Officer Dave Wolverton.

"If it was our wishes," said Cook, "those people that were terminated would stay terminated."

By contract, the arbitrator's ruling is legally binding.

MORE: Fired Lakeland cops fight to get their jobs back

Woolverton was one of several officers fired in the case. He had admitted having sex with former civilian worker Sue Eberle, who was also fired, while off duty in his personal vehicle.

Eberle has since threatened to sue Lakeland for creating a hostile work environment.

Her attorney, David Linesch, called the decision disappointing.

"This reinstatement really is an insult to some extent to the good work of the state attorney's office and their conclusion with regard to this person," said Linesch, "It's an insult to Sue Eberle."

READ: David Woolverton ruling (pdf)

Woolverton's attorney says it was only right that the highly decorated police sergeant get rehired with back pay even if he is being demoted from sergeant to officer.

It's a level of discipline "more in line with what other officer have received in other similar incidents," said Woolverton's attorney Jeff Stull.

Still at question is what will the department do with Woolverton.

He is one of three Lakeland officers that State Attorney Jerry Hill had written a poison pen letter about, saying he wouldn't prosecute Woolverton's cases because, as an officer, his testimony couldn't be trusted.

That may not leave a lot of options other than clerking or training, said Cook, if every traffic stop or criminal case Woolverton were to be involved with was challenged by a defense attorney.

"We're trying to figure out where he fits in at the police department if that letter is in his file," said Cook.

And that's not the only problem.

Cook also says its police officers make between $38,000 and $60,000 a year. City records show that Woolverton was hired by the police department in 1992 and was making $76,505 when he was fired.

It's not clear how much they would be required to pay Woolverton upon reinstatement.

The department, says Cook, is still weighing its legal options.

The Ledger reports Woolverton should be able to resume work in a couple of days.


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