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Moorhead, fire chief reach exit deal

Joel Hewitt

The city of Moorhead and its embattled fire chief, Joel Hewitt, appear to have reached an agreement that will make clear the chief's future with the city.

The city announced in an e-mail sent out Monday evening that the City Council will hold a special meeting Thursday evening to consider a proposed "settlement and release agreement" between the city and Hewitt.

Messages left Monday for city Manager Michael Redlinger and Hewitt were not returned as of late Monday.

Hewitt has been on paid administrative leave since August, when city officials said an internal investigation had been launched to look into allegations of official misconduct.

At the time, Hewitt's Twin Cities attorney, Trevor Oliver, said Moorhead police were investigating if Hewitt had shared information about a double homicide investigation with someone he wasn't supposed to.

"My understanding is he (Hewitt) didn't do it. He wouldn't have had any crime scene information to know or share," Oliver said in August.

Earlier this winter, Clay County Attorney Brian Melton said he had forwarded Moorhead police investigative reports to the Becker County Attorney's Office to review.

In November, Becker County Attorney Michael Fritz sent a letter to Moorhead police stating he would not file charges against Hewitt in connection with any information he might have shared.

Fritz stated in the letter that although Hewitt may have disclosed information that would be classified as criminal investigative data, his knowledge was "personal" and the conduct at issue did not violate a criminal law.

Last week, Fritz said he would not file charges against Hewitt based on his review of a Moorhead police investigation into whether Hewitt solicited women for prostitution.

Reports released by Moorhead police indicate three women, identified in the reports as exotic dancers, told investigators Hewitt offered them money to perform sexual acts.

The reports state that two of the women told police they performed sexual acts for Hewitt in return for money.

Fritz said in a letter to Moorhead police that he was declining to bring charges because there was a lack of corroborating evidence to back up allegations made by "co-conspirators."

Hewitt was named Moorhead's fire chief in 2004.

His annual salary is about $86,000.