Board to reimburse Fabrizio's legal fees

KINGMAN - Former County Treasurer Lee Fabrizio will have some of his legal fees paid by the county. The Board of Supervisors approved, 2 to 1, the payment of some of the $4,885.80 of legal fees during its meeting on Monday. Board Chairman Tom Sockwell was the only supervisor to vote against the reimbursement.

Fabrizio hired an attorney last year during the election after Melissa Havatone filed a harassment grievance against Janet Barker, the former chief deputy treasurer.

Havatone was placed on administrative leave while the county investigated the claim.

At the time, Havatone was running for the treasurer's seat. Barker left the county in July, and Havatone won office in the November election.

"This occurred while he was an elected official. It should be covered by the county," said Supervisor Buster Johnson.

The county is responsible to protect an elected official if he is sued by someone while completing his official duties, said Board Chairman Tom Sockwell. He wasn't so sure that the county had the responsibility to pay for an attorney that the elected official hired himself.

If the county was going to pay the legal fees, Sockwell suggested that the Board get a release stating that Fabrizio would not request the repayment of any more legal fees.

The county doesn't have a procedure of hiring attorneys to represent elected officials before the Board, said County Manager Ron Walker. However, all elected officials have the right to seek representation from the County Attorney's Office.

During the harassment investigation, the Board investigated Fabrizio to see if there was any mismanagement on his part that led to the harassment claim. Johnson suggested that the CAO review the fees to make sure they were not excessive.

Walker suggested that the CAO break out any fees that might be considered personal from those dealing directly with the administration of the County Treasurer's Office.

The fees, according to information from the county, include hours charged for creating letters to the CAO, discussing strategy for the Board hearing and speaking with reporters.

The Board then approved the CAO to review the legal fees; separate those fees connected with the investigation of the administration of the Treasurer's Office from those connected with personal matters; and have Fabrizio sign a wavier that he would not seek further reimbursement.