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Investigation finds former moonlighting Fairbanks chief had a conflict of interest

  • Author: Laurel Andrews
  • Updated: December 2, 2017
  • Published January 20, 2017

Former Fairbanks police Chief Randall Aragon's secondary job as a private security consultant was in conflict with his public position, and he personally profited from information gleaned as a law enforcement officer, an investigation has found.

An executive summary of the investigation, conducted by Russell Consulting LLC, reviewed allegations made by former Fairbanks police Chief Dan Hoffman in September that Aragon's moonlighting gig was a conflict of interest.

"The investigation substantiated Mr. Hoffman's concerns," said a statement from Teal Soden, a spokesman for the Fairbanks mayor's office.

The investigation's executive summary was given to the mayor's office Jan. 10, the statement said. It was announced Friday.

The company's investigation found that Aragon's moonlighting "presented a potential conflict of interest," and that he was "profiting from information gained through his position as a law enforcement officer to advance financial or other private interests."

Statements made by Aragon could be "reasonably interpreted" to negatively affect department morale and public perception, the executive summary says.

Soden added: "He made comments that his (security) surveys were better than those of the police officers, more thorough," Soden said. Aragon's boasts were attempts to convince people to pay for his services.

During his time as chief, Aragon conducted nine security surveys; five were done off-duty through his personal security survey company, Certified Security Surveys. Those done in his capacity as chief were free of charge. The five conducted under his private company each cost $600.

The allegations against Aragon first arose in an open letter from former police Chief Hoffman at the Fairbanks City Council's Sept. 19 meeting.

In the letter, Hoffman said he was "literally sickened" to get a report about Aragon committing "highly unethical activity."

A business owner had told Hoffman that she had asked the Fairbanks Police Department to conduct a walk-through of her business and suggest security improvements, which the department does for free for businesses within city limits.

The business owner alleged, according to the letter, that Aragon responded by explaining the police department was understaffed and officers sent on such a detail would likely perform a very brief job of little value.

"She was then somewhat shocked and taken aback when the Chief then offered to do a 'much more thorough job' himself, acting in a private-contractor capacity as a 'Federally Certified Protection Professional,' " the letter says.

On Oct. 7, newly elected Mayor John Eberhart requested to the Alaska Municipal Joint Insurance Association that an investigation be conducted. The organization chose Russell Consulting, which traveled to Fairbanks from Southcentral to conduct interviews and review reports, eventually leading to its findings.

Aragon took over as chief of police Nov. 24, 2014. He was placed on leave on Sept. 23, and resigned on Oct. 28 amid the continued investigation. He could not be reached for comment Friday.

After Aragon resigned, Eric Jewkes, then a deputy chief with the department, was tapped for the position, Alaska Public Media reported in early December.

The investigation also found that then-Mayor Eberhart had given verbal approval of Aragon's secondary employment.

Hoffman's initial letter had asked that if Eberhart was aware of the activity, that he be censured "in the most stringent terms possible."

In October, Eberhart lost the city mayoral election to Jim Matherly.

Matherly said Friday that he wasn't surprised by the findings of the report, and did not dispute them.

Going forward, all requests for secondary employment citywide must be signed off by Matherly, he said, and he will consult human resources about any potential conflicts.

No other action will be taken, as neither Aragon nor Eberhart work for the city, Matherly said.

"To me, the case is closed. It's done. I have a new chief of police and we're moving forward," Matherly said.

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