Rist proceeding with grievance

Published 5:07 pm Tuesday, November 18, 2008

In spite of threats of indictment, a former Ironton police officer is proceeding with a grievance process she hopes will clear her name and return her to her job.

Warren Morford, the attorney for Beth Rist, said he was told the Lawrence County Prosecutors Office planned to present the case against Rist to a grand jury for possible indictment on perjury and tampering with evidence charges Tuesday afternoon. Lawrence County Prosecutor J.B. Collier, Jr., was not immediately available to confirm this. In a prepared statement, Morford said Rist was told if she dropped her grievance and agreed not to file a lawsuit against the city, she would not face criminal charges. She refused.

“Ms. Rist believes the actions by the Lawrence County Prosecutor are improper, unprofessional and questionable,” Morford said in his prepared statement.

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Rist maintains she did nothing wrong when she wrote a traffic ticket Aug. 27. The ticket led to an internal and external investigation and prompted Mayor Rich Blankenship to fire her.

“I did not gain anything from my actions and there is no victim here,” Rist said in the prepared statement. “I did not fabricate any charges. The individual who received the citation admitted her guilt and paid the fine and costs of the subject citation. The matter should be done and over with…. I’ve been the victim of blackmail in all of this as the woman who was issued the citation contacted me and threatened me with my job if I didn’t do something for her.”

Rist said she believes there is a concerted effort being made to coerce her into giving up her legal rights but she refuses to be bullied.

A grievance hearing is scheduled for Thursday of this week. The hearing was originally set for Monday but Morford asked for additional time to prepare his case on Rist’s behalf.

Rist was fired late last month after it was determined she violated police department policy. City officials said Rist pulled over a woman who had run a stop sign. It was determined the woman also had no insurance, was driving under a suspension because she had no insurance and had expired vehicle tags.

Rist then summoned a family member to the scene and indicated she would give the family member the option of taking a citation herself or having the relative originally pulled over taken to jail. The family member who was summoned to the scene took a citation. Roughly a month later, the family member who took the citation appeared in Ironton Municipal Court and was told because there was no insurance on that vehicle, she would lose her driver’s license. The family member then called Rist and tried to get assistance. City officials contend Rist then threatened the woman. Rist has contends the woman threatened her.