Documents detail reasons as to why Port Wentworth police chief retired

Published: Feb. 7, 2023 at 11:24 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 7, 2023 at 11:26 PM EST
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PORT WENTWORTH, Ga. (WTOC) - It’s all in the documents given to WTOC by Port Wentworth’s legal team - a timeline going back six months documenting how now retired chief Matt Libby violated city and police policy.

What triggered an investigation was an almost $20,000 purchase for software. Libby’s spending limit is $5,000.

It goes on to list a total of $66,642 in unauthorized charges to a motor bike company, a mobile forensics, and shipping supplies to name a few. The memorandum said he also tried to book lavish rooms in Las Vegas for a conference without approval.

That trip to Las Vegas was apparently canceled after the city manager Steve Davis found out.

Councilman Rufus Bright was the only councilmember who would comment on the record. He said he was made aware of some of the violations and didn’t appreciate hearing Libby claim the city forced him to leave.

“You can always rescind your early retirement and come back and fight...the evidence is stacked against him. I would’ve took it and just shut my mouth. Some people aren’t grateful.”

The file also states Libby made a “violation of nepotism” trying to hire a family member to work as the police clerk. It claims Mayor Gary Norton tried to force Davis to find the family member a position.

Mayor Norton didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Other accused violations include trying to restructure the entire command staff and giving unauthorized promotions.

The city also accuses now retired chief Libby of claiming fraud on his credit card. According to the city manager, he was able to spend all that he did because the chief is one of three people with emergency spending capability.

So after all of this...what did the city offer? A full year’s salary of $110,000 and two years of health insurance for him and his family.

The interesting clause at the end of the separation agreement states now retired chief Libby relinquishes the city from any wrongdoing with respect to his “resignation.”

Councilman Bright said, “the city did beyond what I expected. To me, I think they gave him more than he was deserving and slapped him on the hand and said you’re gone.”

We also asked why part of the agreement was to name the city’s new police training center after Libby. We were told it’s because of his service.

“I don’t like it. You’re rewarding someone for doing something wrong.”

We also asked the city manager, “is the city getting any of that money back?” The answer was no. The money is spent.

Many of the purchases appear to be for the police department. They just were not authorized.

The city manager also said in a statement they are trying to focus on the future of the new chief:

“We have made substantial changes in our financial oversight since last July when we hired our new CFO and there has been significant improvements...The review we did was for the fiscal year and we have not looked further back.”

The city manager also expects to hire a new chief by next week.