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Former Escondido Police Chief’s severance deal released

ESCONDIDO — Former Escondido Police Chief Jim Maher’s sealed severance package contained a $150,000 payment and strict confidentially rules prohibiting him from speaking about his sudden retirement and from participating in city affairs. 

The contents of the severance agreement were only just revealed after the city released the documents to the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties on Sept. 9, months after the organization’s original request.

The confidentiality portion of the severance agreement forbids Maher and his wife from divulging any information about the reason behind his retirement, the personnel investigation he was a witness for, his severance package, or any aspects of his employment with the city.

Maher and his wife are also barred from participating in any city affairs and community meetings and cannot come to any city facility without permission from the city through Jan. 1, 2014 under the agreement.

Maher and his family also consented to giving up their right to sue the city.

By complying with these terms, Maher is to receive $150,000 and he and some of his family members will be covered by medical and dental benefits through Feb. 28, 2014.

After serving in the Escondido Police Department for 33 years, Maher retired on Dec. 31, 2012 after being placed on paid leave on Sept. 12, 2012 for being a witness in a personnel investigation. His severance agreement was signed on Oct. 31, 2012.

Details of the personnel investigation were never released by the city manager’s office, such that even City Council was unaware of the specifics of the investigation or how it was concluded.

The facets of Maher’s severance agreement were not disclosed until the ACLU’s legal staff spoke directly with the city attorney’s office after the organization’s public records request for the documents that was submitted on July 10, 2013 was denied by the city.

“Suffice it to say, we resolved the problem without going to court,” stated legal director of San Diego’s ACLU, David Loy.

Escondido city attorney and city manager’s offices declined to comment on the release.

The ACLU pursued the disclosure due to the strong public interest in the contents of the secret severance package, Loy said.

“The public has a right to see this document,” he added.