Phenix City Parks and Rec employees fired after internal investigation

Four Phenix City Parks and Recreation Department employees have been fired and one has been charged with theft of property after an internal investigation revealed they had been using city owned equipment for personal gain.

City officials identified the charged former employee as Jimmy Jackson but declined to name the other three, saying the investigation was "a personnel matter that still requires due process." Police would not specify what Jackson allegedly took because they are still investigating.

"Because we're still actively investigating we don't really want to say what they were doing," said Phenix City Police Chief Ray Smith. "We're still talking to some other people that had actually hired those employees to do that kind of work."

The investigation began Nov. 26 after City Manager Wallace B. Hunter received a complaint about the activity, according to a statement from the city. Hunter directed the police department to investigate the complaints.

"The initial internal investigation found evidence that the complaints were valid," the statement says, "and the internal investigation quickly evolved into a criminal investigation."

City officials said they determined that some of the employees had removed city equipment, materials and supplies from city property for use on private jobs.

"The investigation is continuing and it is possible that there will be additional criminal and administrative charges made against current and former City of Phenix City employees," the statement said.