Two relatives of area town's mayor found on city payroll, one is sex offender

Mayor's nephew, brother hired by city

LOGANSPORT, Ind. -  

The mayor of a city north of Indianapolis has fired his sex-offender nephew after Call 6 Investigators found the convicted child molester on that city's payroll.

Call 6 Investigators found that just two weeks after being released from prison, the nephew of Mayor Ted Franklin was on the job in the town of Logansport, about 68-miles north of Indianapolis.

The nephew, 27-year-old Travis Franklin, was hired by the city's street maintenance department days after being released from prison, according to city hiring records and court records on his conviction.

Franklin is a registered sex offender who pleaded guilty in January to sexually abusing a child for years, beginning when she was 13 years old.  

As part of a plea bargain, he was sentenced to four years in prison, but most of that sentence was suspended by the judge. Court records show Franklin was ordered to spend one year in prison, but he was released early on Oct. 22 due to good behavior.

When asked whether he pulled any strings to take care of his relative at taxpayers' expense, Mayor Franklin said he had nothing to do with his nephew's hiring.

"It took place without my knowledge," Mayor Ted Franklin said, adding that he does not micro-manage the everyday hiring of the supervisors he has in place at the city's street department.

The mayor said he first learned his nephew was on the payroll when contacted by the Call 6 Investigators.

"I had no prior knowledge of him," said Mayor Franklin. 

He said he quickly fired his nephew because, "We are held to a higher standard… (and) that level of service was not met."

The mayor said the firing caused disagreements within the family, but he said, "during business hours we're not relatives."

With the exception of police officers and certain sensitive positions, Indiana law allows cities to hire employees with felony convictions. Jodie Woods, general counsel with the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns said cities are told by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that they should use their best judgment.

Call 6 Investigators found Travis Franklin on the job just two days after being hired by the City of Logansport.  He was working an $8-per-hour position on a leaf collection crew in a residential neighborhood.

He told Call 6, "I got this job fairly."

He said his uncle being the town's mayor had nothing to do with his hiring.  

"I went through the same qualifications as anybody else," he said, adding that he would be fired if he caused a problem just as any employee would.

While the registered sex offender quickly lost his city job, Call 6 Investigators found another close relative of the mayor on the city payroll.

The mayor's brother, George Franklin, retired as a city police officer and was then tapped as a city code enforcement officer. City records show he earns a salary of $34,600, and his brother defends that hiring move.

The mayor said he always wanted a former police officer in that position since enforcing city building codes is similar to police work. He said his brother had prior experience from working in that office on a fill-in basis, and he pointed out that only one other person applied for the job.

The City of Logansport has an anti-nepotism policy on the books, which is required of all cities under a new Indiana nepotism law. The law bans influential city officials from having relatives working under their direct chain of command.

Mayor Franklin said he hired his brother before that law took effect, which means the brother is protected by a grandfather clause in the new law.

Woods, the top lawyer  for the Association of Cities and Towns, said the state is interpreting the law to say that relatives of a mayor or other elected leader are not barred from any and all city employ, but rather they cannot work in a job that has the relative in a direct supervisory role.

"I have no intention of hiring any relatives," said Mayor Franklin, who blamed political enemies for the controversy.

He said firing his own nephew was difficult, but, "It's just the right thing to do."

 

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