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Valley City officer investigated over wage claims on leave for probe of new 'serious' allegations

Valley City police Lt. David Swenson

VALLEY CITY, N.D.—The Valley City Police Department has launched a new internal investigation concerning "the possibility of violations" of policy involving a lieutenant who recently was the subject of an inquiry into his work hours.

In a statement released Thursday, July 7, Police Chief Fred Thompson said the allegations involving Lt. David Swenson are of a "serious nature." Swenson has been placed on administrative leave with pay pending the department's probe.

Thompson didn't disclose what the complaint was about, saying in the statement: "No further details of the investigation will be released at this time as the investigation is in progress."

In an interview, Thompson said the new investigation has no connection to the earlier investigation into Swenson's wages.

"It has nothing to do with that," he said. "I was approached by an individual who made some allegations."

The inquiry into whether Swenson illegally drew wages by working at the same time for multiple agencies was completed in late June. That investigation determined the allegations were unfounded.

"The state's attorney cleared him and I could find no instance where he was paid by two different or even three different revenue streams at the same time," Thompson told The Forum when the wage investigation was finished.

According to a 61-page report, the Valley City Police Department's internal investigation found Swenson logged 4,254.25 hours during calendar year 2015. That works out to nearly 11.7 hours per day, if a person worked each of the year's 365 days.

For the Valley City Police Department, Swenson logged about 2,100 hours of regular time, including nearly 330 hours of vacation time, as well as 350 hours of overtime and 280 hours of grand overtime. He also worked more than 1,500 hours for Barnes County as the director of the Community Service Program.

In the report, Thompson said a spreadsheet analysis found Swenson's hours worked for the two entities did not overlap despite more than 20 instances where payroll records indicated Swenson had been paid 20 or more hours in a given day.

Only five of those days were actually 20-plus hour days on the job, with the rest of the hours on other days accounted for with vacation time used, the report stated.

Thompson said the investigation should lead to policy changes limiting how many hours an employee can work in a day or a week and how many hours a police officer can work when they have a second job.

Bob Drake, a Valley City businessman who had spurred the wage fraud investigation against Swenson, said he was not the source of the latest investigation. Earlier this year, Drake made allegations against several Valley City officials, according to Joe Larson, a lawyer hired by the city that he characterized as false as well as "absolutely shameful and disgraceful."

Those allegations included an accusation that Swenson had sex while on duty, refused a lie detector test in a forgery investigation, and conspired with a woman to arrest her husband for drunken driving and drugs.