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Longview fire investigator resigns amid internal probe; pound of marijuana found in home

By Richard Yeakley
Dec. 11, 2012 at 11 p.m.

A veteran Longview Fire Department employee resigned after Kilgore police said they found nearly a pound of marijuana in her home in late November.

City spokesman Shawn Hara said Monica Hanks resigned from her duties as fire inspector and code compliance inspector Thursday - three days after she was placed on paid administrative leave.

Hanks was not criminally charged after a search of her home, northwest of Kilgore, revealed marijuana and drug distribution paraphernalia.

Hara said the Longview police department had begun an internal investigation for possible personnel policy violations at the request of the Longview Fire Department, since Hanks worked in the division that normally conducts LFD internal investigations.

"The investigation explored whether Hanks had violated portions of the city personnel policy including 3.03 (s), committed any act or conduct showing a lack of good moral character or of any other conduct unbecoming a city employee on or off duty, 3.03 (X), damaged the city's reputation or business due to off-duty actions, or 3.03 (Z), has committed any other acts or conduct of equal gravity to the reasons enumerated in this section," Hara said in a prepared statement.

The investigation that led to the discovery of drugs inside Hanks' home started with a traffic stop, said Kilgore police Capt. Roman Roberson. During the traffic stop, officers discovered marijuana and subsequently went to the house where the suspect said the drugs were sold.

However, Roberson said officers contacted the homeowner – who was away at the time - and received permission to search the residence. Gregg County records indicate Hanks is the owner of the property where the search occurred.

During the search, Roberson said officers found about a pound of marijuana, scales, baggies and rolling papers.

Eric King, 22, of Kilgore was arrested and charged with possession of between 4 ounces and 5 pounds of marijuana as well as evading arrest.

"We don't anticipate making any further arrests based on the investigation," Roberson said.

Further details of the incident were not available because Kilgore police declined to release the arrest affidavit without a request under the Texas Public Information Act.

Hanks, who has served with the Longview Fire Department since 1998, was not available for comment Tuesday.

She started as a customer service representative before transitioning to fire prevention technician in 2002. In 2011, she was promoted to the civilian position of fire inspector and code compliance inspector.

Hara said Hanks will not be eligible for rehire by the city.

"However, she (or any employee that is not eligible for rehire) may choose to apply for a job with the City of Longview in the future. The HR department informs the hiring manager in the department that the applicant is not eligible for rehire.

The hiring manager may choose to fill out a 'rehire request form' and provide justification for the hire. The hire would then require the approval of the city manager," Hara said.



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