Norwich recreation director fired for showing 'poor judgment'; said to have used city equipment for personal use

Norwich — Former Recreation Director C. Roger Moss used city equipment for personal use, allowed drinking of beer at adult softball games on city property and invited family members to a staff party in a luxury suite at the Thomas J. Dodd Memorial Stadium, a termination letter released Monday by city officials said.

Moss was fired by City Manager Alan Bergren Nov. 12. The Day filed Freedom of Information requests for the investigation report and termination letter, and then a complaint with the state Freedom of Information Commission when city officials initially refused to release the documents.

Moss has filed a grievance challenging the termination. Moss said Monday he had objected to the release of the termination letter, because his grievance is pending. He declined to comment further. City Human Resources Director Brigid Marks said grievance proceedings have not yet been scheduled.

The termination letter signed by Bergren Nov. 12 outlined nine allegations. Bergren described some as showing "poor judgment" as a department head and wrote that Moss allegedly made false statements in responses to some allegations.

The second letter released Monday was written by Marks to Moss Oct. 15 prior to a pre-termination hearing. Marks outlined 10 incidents in that letter.

Bergren had placed Moss on paid administrative leave Oct. 1.

In his termination letter, Bergren wrote that Moss was told during the summer that men's softball players were drinking beer on city property, and he failed to investigate the allegation. Bergren called the failure to do spot checks "poor judgment, particularly since you were a department head."

Moss allegedly allowed softball players to drink beer at the softball banquet in August. At the termination hearing, Moss told Bergren he "felt it was acceptable behavior" because Otis Library had hosted a wine-tasting event. Bergren wrote that the library is not governed by the city, and Moss had indicated he was aware that beer drinking on public property was not allowed.

"The fact that you allowed individuals to drink and bring beer to a city-sponsored event on city property is a dereliction of duty," Bergren wrote.

Moss also allegedly drove a city truck for personal use, including to and from home. He also was accused of using a city camera for personal use and in August, allegedly moved a large city grill, propane tanks and a large tent to a location in Berlin for a Podunk Bluegrass Festival fundraiser. Moss is executive director of the festival.

Bergren wrote that Moss was "dishonest" or made false statements in responding to the grill, propane and tent use and camera use.

Moss allegedly told Bergren that his wife, son and son's girlfriend attended the staff party at Dodd Stadium only after invited guests failed to attend. But Bergren wrote that Moss' response was "dishonest" because city officials later discovered the family members had been on the invitation list prior to the event.

In another incident, Moss allegedly stored "large amounts of personal, Podunk and wrestling club items without permission" at the city Recreation Department. Moss reportedly told city officials that a subordinate employee had told him storage of personal items was acceptable.

A big-screen TV with a sticker labeled "East Hartford" also was stored at the department. Bergren wrote that Moss' responses to questions about the TV were "dishonest."

Moss had worked as East Hartford recreation director for 15 years prior to being hired by Norwich. He also is youth wrestling coach in Berlin.

The final incident involved Moss' purchase of a storage shed for the Recreation Department in September. Moss allegedly selected a shed he liked at Carefree Small Buildings. Moss then allegedly allowed the company representative to provide the required three competitive bids — two of which had no return addresses. Bergren called that situation "highly unprofessional."

In describing several incidents, Bergren included a statement that in June he had directed Moss to inform him of any issues "that could be viewed in a potentially negative light by city taxpayers."

c.bessette@theday.com

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