Ironton police officer indicted

Published 12:51 pm Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Despite being indicted, a former Ironton police officer is proceeding with a grievance process she hopes will clear her name and return her to her job.

The Lawrence County Prosecutor’s Office confirmed this morning that former Ironton police officer Beth Rist has been indicted by a grand jury on one count of tampering with evidence.

Rist’s attorney, Warren Morford, said Rist was told earlier this week if she dropped her grievance and agreed not to file a lawsuit against the city, she would not face criminal charges. She refused.

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The grand jury met Monday and Tuesday of this week and returned the indictment against her.

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

Collier was not immediately available for comment.

Rist maintains she did not commit a criminal act 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. Rist contends the firing was part of a personal vendetta.

“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. 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 city officials determined she violated police department policy. They claim 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 contended Rist then threatened the woman. Rist has contended the woman threatened her.