PLANT CITY — A veteran police sergeant who was fired in January for helping to cover up a former police chief’s affair is suing to get his job back.
Mark Mathis wants back pay and reinstatement to his $67,813 per year job, according to the suit. He contends his rights as a police officer were violated and he was not told before his dismissal of the accusations he faced.
Plant City officials either couldn’t be reached Thursday or declined to comment on the lawsuit.
Mathis, a Plant City police officer since 2003, was fired because he failed to report that he found then-Capt. Steve Singletary and Melissa Hardwick together at a closed business in September 2011. Mathis was sent to the business after the owner complained to police of a couple driving separate vehicles in his parking lot.
Mathis reported in police records that the vehicles were gone when he arrived, though Singletary and Hardwick were in fact still there, city officials have said.
Singletary was promoted to police chief in 2013.
Mathis and Singletary were fired Jan. 28 by then-City Manager Greg Horwedel. Horwedel, who since has left the city to work as deputy county manager, said Mathis was fired for being untruthful in his report, and Singletary was fired for spending time with Hardwick when he should have been at work.
Singletary has admitted the affair but contended he was with her on his own time.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement looked into allegations that Singletary was paid by the city for time he wasn’t working. The agency concluded criminal charges were not warranted.