Entries Tagged 'Jim Sideras' ↓

Sandy likes a plea deal

Now that a plea deal has been reached in the Sideras case, it’s time for me to share how this case has affected me over the past couple of weeks. When I found out that Jim’s attorney was using the excuse that comments Patrick Warren made in the Argus Leader and on my BLOG proves he has a vendetta against his client, I was shocked, baffled and quite honestly LIVID! It seemed to me that some of evidence the prosecutors have already presented pointed all fingers at Sideras. Simply put, even if Warren would have somehow got access to Jim’s personal computer remotely, how on earth could he do it when Sideras was in San Antonio?! The defense was grasping at straws, and as they proved today in the plea agreement, Jim was ultimately the guilty party.

Besides speculating on Jim’s probable light sentence (I will be surprised he gets any jail time) the plea agreement is kind of telling. Notice Jim only plead guilty to possession of an image on his personal laptop. This is significant. Why?

From KDLT;

The Human Resource Director for the City of Sioux Falls says regardless of his plea, Sideras is still entitled to his pension, after serving 34 years with fire rescue.

This statement alone may explain why this was the only count he agreed to plea to. Besides the fact many city employees and citizens are extremely angry he gets to keep his pension, by state law he is entitled to it. I felt after the verdict came down the city should just cut him one check for his vested pension and send him on his way without taxpayer pension funds or healthcare.

Could they legally do that? Is there a loophole? I believe there is. See if this would have went to full trial and he was found guilty of some of the other possessions, some of those occurred while he was on company time, and it could give the city the right to file charges of misuse of government property or capital, even fraud. If they could successfully tie Jim to those charges they probably would have the right to pull his pension. Besides the fact he got one heckuva a plea deal, the greater misdeeds in misusing taxpayer property was the real crime here. Unfortunately we will never know. That may explain why we have gotten NO official statement from the city on this case.

UPDATE: How can Sideras get his full pension?

The HR director of the city of Sioux Falls, Bill Dah’Toole, says Sideras gets his full pension. (Watch all 3 of KSFY’s videos) While I understand getting his ‘vested’ pension, I question if a terminated director who is accused of child pornography should receive one more penny of tax dollars with his pension or extended healthcare. But the bigger question is, was he terminated or did Huether ‘cut a deal’. Notice Huether NEVER said he fired Jim, only that he ‘in-acted’ the process. As I understand it, if you are terminated, you only get your vested pension.

It is very suspicious, and certainly not right.

Also, I find it interesting that they are only interviewing internal candidates, some of the same people who have invested with Sideras on lake front property. Isn’t this a gigantic conflict of interest? Of course the mayor needs to hire someone internally so he can keep the conflicts and internal scandals at bay.

Makes you wonder if the Mayor shares any investments with Sideras or his lake front buddies?

UPDATE: I guess by city ordinance, there are no rules against Sideras receiving his pension, no matter what he did after his eligibility. At the age of 60 he will get his pension and health benefits (or his wife).

UPDATED: Why was Sideras terminated before he was arrested or exonerated?

UPDATE: As we already know, Mr. Sideras was charged with possession of 10 counts of child pornography. If you read the search warrant affidavit, you will see they have ample evidence against him. He of course deserves his day in court. If found guilty, it will be truly sad that a man of this position in our city did what he did. So how does this reflect on the city and how it chooses its directors? When former assistant chief Patrick Warren was charged with hacking Sideras’ computer, Warren said he suffered from mental illness, and he urged the city to do a better job of evaluating the mental health of city employees. Could Sideras possible obsession with child pornography be caught in such an evaluation? While the city seems to be concerned about the health and well being of the minions, do they do evaluations on managers and offer them assistance? If the city learns anything from this episode, they need to start getting serious about the mental capacity and well being of their managers and directors.

Trust me, I have had hundreds of conversations with people over the past week about the possible reasons Sideras’ home was searched. And I have heard it all.

But with many of these conversations, people are asking the obvious. Why did the city decide to terminate Sideras before charges were brought against him?

In most cases, when a public official is embroiled in an investigation, and hasn’t been arrested or charged, they are put on administrative leave. I find it hard to believe that Sideras quit on his own, especially with the possibility of losing his pension.

This is all puzzling because the mayor has said over the past couple of days he ‘knows nothing’.

Yeah right.

What did Fire Chief Jim Sideras do?

To tell you the truth, I have no idea. There are some educated guesses, but like most crime related situations I think everyone deserves their day in court.

I do know that with my past conversations with former assistant chief, Patrick Warren that Warren did file complaints as early as 2011 against the chief over some employment issues and unauthorized vacation time. Those complaints were also sent to the city council after Warren’s termination in 2014. As far as Warren knew, no action was taken against Sideras due to Warren’s complaints.

Like I said, we will have to wait to see how this plays out. It makes me sad, because we have several fine individuals who work for the SFFD and I would hate to see the organization tarnished over the wrongdoings of their outgoing Chief.