HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) - Hampton Police Chief Chuck Jordan has been placed on administrative leave as investigations continue into an undercover operations surrounding illegal cigarette purchases.
The Hampton Police Division began an undercover operation along with the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms and Tobacco to investigate illegal cigarette purchases. City Manager Mary Bunting said the sales are used to finance acts of terrorism.
The ATF was forced to pull out of the investigation when the bureau discovered criminal activity by one of its agents, Bunting said in a written statement . The Hampton Police Division continued on.
Earlier in the year, an officer with the Hampton Police Division claimed undercover officers were misusing the money issued for training-related travel. As soon as the allegations were made by the officer, Chief Chuck Jordan stopped the operation and asked the Virginia State Police to begin and investigation.
"The State Police investigated over a period of four months," Bunting said. "After reviewing their findings with then-Commonwealth's Attorney John Haugh, no criminal charges were taken."
But while no criminal charges were filed, police conducted an internal affairs investigation. Bunting added that investigation is ongoing and expected to be completed by the end of October.
Through the internal affairs investigation, questions arose about the undercover operation and the decision to continue after the ATF pulled out. According to Bunting, the internal affairs investigation "was more focused on the initial allegations – misuse of allocations for travel – and not these broader questions."
Bunting has now asked the firm of Cherry, Bekaert & Holland, LLP to perform an external financial review.
"The work of the external financial review should help us to clearly identify how money was spent, what rules/regulations were or were not followed, who signed off on each transaction, etc," Bunting's statement continued.
Additionally, Bunting has asked another external investigator to take a look at the undercover operation. Bill Hefty of Hefty & Wiley, PC will begin his investigation on Oct. 30.
During the investigations, Chief Chuck Jordan has been placed on administrative leave. In his place, Bunting said former chief Tommy Townsend will serve as Acting Chief of Police.
"I must be clear, however, that the decision to place Chief Jordan on administrative leave is in no way meant to convey any predetermination of wrongdoing on his – or any other officer who remains on administrative leave – part," Bunting said.
It is standard protocol for those involved in an investigation to be placed on administrative leave.
The Attorney General's Office will be asked to conduct a third investigation into the "legal issues arising from the undercover operation." The request will be issued next week.
The statement comes nearly a week after former Hampton delegate Tom Gear was removed from a city council meeting on Oct. 11. Gear asked councilmembers about the recent cigarette sting and was told he was being disruptive.
Gear was charged with trespassing in the incident.
Stay with WAVY.com for more on this developing story.
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