Former Rockdale County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Rob Cordero rejected an offer for an administrative hearing and will instead file charges of discrimination with the Employment Equal Opportunity Commission, according to his attorney Mary Huber.
Sheriff Jeff Wigington said in a released statement, "Rob, through his attorney, has dropped the request for a name clearing hearing. I was prepared to give him one even though I did not think the public airing of this information would be productive. I hope he can now move on and focus on more productive pursuits."
Huber, in an email, said "We rejected the hearing offered by the Sheriff, to be held before the Sheriff — as Sheriff Wigington is the person who made the false statements about Rob." The position of Deputy Chief is exempt from merit board considerations and can be hired and fired at will.
Huber said they would be filing charges with the EEOC of discrimination based on ethnicity and national origin.
"Rockdale has been undergoing demographic changes," said Huber. "It’s in transition from being white controlled to minority controlled. In looking at this case, I couldn’t figure out why Sheriff Wigington would fire his second in command and smear his name in the process."
"I started looking at the demographics and the winds of change blowing in Rockdale County. And here’s Rob, who’s Hispanic and is a registered Republican."
She said Cordero would be seeking to be reinstated to his employment plus back-pay and benefits.
Cordero, who was fired Feb.12, had been placed on administrative leave with pay on Feb. 2 for violation of a policy that states "A deputy will not fraternize or associate himself in a personal, social or financial relationship with any person(s) of questionable character," according to the Feb. 12 letter of termination issued by the Sheriff. While he was on administrative leave and after he had been ordered to turn in his county-issued Blackberry and equipment, he reportedly contacted the county MIS department on Feb. 3 to access his Outlook contacts, against policy.
Regarding the "person of questionable character," Huber said she had hired a private investigator to investigate this person and had found only a DUI charge.
According to documents obtained by the News through a request under the Open Records Act, Cordero had reportedly asked for assistance downloading Outlook contacts onto his personal Blackberry on the evening of Feb. 3 "He stated he was going out of town and needed this done before he left… I believe he mentioned to me he didn’t necessarily want that getting out," according to a witness statement.
The documents obtained also showed regular contact with a mobile number based in Lawrenceville.