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Severance of former Escondido Police Chief withheld

ESCONDIDO — Speaking publicly for the first time since his sudden retirement last year, former Escondido Chief of Police Jim Maher issued a statement claiming that he was forced to retire and that the city is withholding half of his severance payment. 

“I was never given the option of retaining my job,” Maher said in a statement emailed to the U-T on Sept. 12.

He stated that he had originally planned on retiring in December 2015, but did not explain why he was forced to leave his position on Dec. 31, 2012 instead or who was involved.

Maher could not be reached for comment.

Escondido City Manager Clay Phillips, City Attorney Jeffrey Epp, and Mayor Sam Abed have declined repeated requests for comment.

Maher’s retirement was announced last year by a city press release, which revealed that he had been on paid leave since Sept. 12, 2012 because he was a witness in an unspecified personnel investigation.

Maher went on to say in the statement that the city was withholding half of his $150,000 severance payment until he agreed not to run for elected office in Escondido or endorse anyone who did. He said that he has refused to make such an agreement and as a result has only received $75,000.

He also claimed that he was legally able to speak publicly about his retirement and severance since Mayor Abed had already broken the confidentiality clauses in his severance agreement by commenting to a U-T reporter that the severance agreement existed and prohibited Maher from running for public office in Escondido.

Maher’s attorney, Richard Castle, Jr. declined to say whether he was aware of the statement before it was submitted to the U-T or if Maher will be pursuing legal action against the city.