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Westlake Mayor confirms Smart cleared of wrongdoing

Last Modified: Friday, February 08, 2013 9:03 PM

By Natalie Stewart / American Press

Following an eight-month long investigation, a Westlake city employee’s name has been cleared of any wrongdoing, according to the mayor.

In July, Councilmen John Cradure and Wally Anderson took accusations to law enforcement officials that Chief Administrative Officer Lonnie Smart had been improperly using city funds.

Among the allegations brought forth by the councilmen is that Smart had been using the city credit care for personal use — which included him paying for a plane ticket to North Carolina in June, and paying for a female to accompany him on a city trip to Washington, D.C., in March 2012.

Smart told the American Press in July that he paid both back and auditors found “nothing wrong” with the transaction, and that the investigation was launched by Cradure and Anderson as a “political ploy” because they “aren’t getting their way.”

Mayor Dan Cupit said Wednesday that the investigation is complete but remains confidential until “all parties reply,” but he did say that the investigation is “more involved than just Lonnie Smart.”

Cupit did say that the investigation cleared Smart.

In November, the council unanimously approved the city’s 2012-2013 budget, eliminating more than $49,000 in funding for Smart’s position, ­which Cupit said was a ploy by Cradure and Anderson because of a “personal vendetta” against Smart.

Councilman Bob Hardey said at the meeting that the city had to trim its budget, and that a chief administrative officer is no longer needed for the city.

“He (Smart) did this for three years, and we needed that help,” Hardey told the American Press in November. “We just don’t feel like we need to fund a position that isn’t necessary at this time.”

Cupit said Wednesday that the council’s elimination of the chief administrative post became part of the investigation, but Smart remains a city employee and has been reassigned to another position.

“I’m looking forward to the final report coming back from the Legislative Auditors Office,” he said. “It’s going to be a big relief to explain the findings to the public.”

Cupit said the city’s report is due back to the Legislative Auditors Office by Feb. 14. The office will then finalize the report and send it back to the city.

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