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Published November 09 2011

More questions raised about former Valley City police chief

VALLEY CITY, N.D. – In his last week on the job, City Administrator Jon Cameron on Wednesday sent a news release raising more questions about Dean Ross, the former police chief here.

The release by Cameron detailed several new complaints against Ross, who retired on Sept. 28, settling a months-long dispute with Cameron and city officials.

Cameron stated in the release that $4,000 in cash from the sale of police weapons dating back to 2005 was taken from a locked safe in Ross’ office last month and turned over to members of the Valley City Police Association.

Also found in the safe was $40 in cash that had been donated by a citizen in 2006 to purchase coffee for police officers, and $332 in cash relating to a 2006 criminal case, according to the release.

The items were found when Ross’ office was cleaned out Oct. 27 by an agent of state Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the city administrator said.

The agreement Ross and the city struck didn’t affect an ongoing investigation by the BCI into allegations the police chief mishandled and misappropriated funds.

The release also stated that Ross hasn’t provided the city records of a $20,000 deposit related to possible tax penalties as required in the settlement agreement with CounterAct, an anti-drug nonprofit with which Ross was affiliated.

Ross was not reached for comment, but his attorney, Joseph Larson of Larson Law Firm in Jamestown, said he was disappointed to read the release.

“(Jon Cameron) is on his second to last day of employment with Valley City, and we’re just deeply disappointed that he’d issue this press release,” Larson said.

Cameron announced a month ago that he would be resigning, effective Friday, following a controversial vote to keep the city administrator position as part of Valley City government.

Larson declined comment on the $4,000 found in Ross’ safe, except to say it was a concern of the police association, not the city.

“These are matters solely between the police association and its members, and not a matter of Valley City,” Larson said. “It’s totally irrelevant in terms of Jon Cameron.”

Calls to Cameron were not returned.

Larson said the additional $372 found in the safe is a matter of Valley City’s internal affairs.

“I don’t know what position those folks are going to take,” he said. “That is a matter for them to handle.”

Larson said he has been in contact with Valley City authorities to finalize the other unresolved issues mentioned in the release, including the pending tax concerns.

He provided The Forum with a receipt for CounterAct’s initial $25,000 payment to the city required by the agreement.

“It’s time that these matters are put to rest,” Larson said. “There’s been enough dispute and confrontation in Valley City.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Sam Benshoof at (701) 241-5535