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City investigating Moorhead fire chief on misconduct allegations

Joel Hewitt

Moorhead Fire Chief Joel Hewitt has been placed on paid administrative leave while city officials investigate allegations of "official misconduct," City Manager Michael Redlinger said.

Redlinger declined to provide any further details about the situation.

The indefinite leave of absence was imposed late Tuesday, according to Moorhead Mayor Mark Voxland, who said he could not release details about the allegations.

Moorhead's fire marshal, Rich Duysen, has been named acting fire chief, Voxland said.

The decision to place Hewitt on administrative leave was made by Redlinger, who investigated the allegations for several days before taking action, Voxland said.

Voxland said the investigation is a civil, internal investigation, not a criminal investigation.

Hewitt has been fire chief since March 2004.

Before that, he was head of the St. Anthony (Minn.) Fire Department.

Prior to his tenure as fire chief in St. Anthony, Hewitt was fire chief in Maplewood, Minn.

Hewitt, 56, replaced Marty Soeth, who retired in January 2004.

Hewitt has about 34 years of firefighting experience.

At the time Hewitt was hired for the Moorhead job, Voxland said Hewitt's leadership experience was one of the reasons he was picked for the position.

The city hired Hewitt at a salary of about $74,000. A current salary figure was not available Wednesday.

A message that was left for Hewitt at his home in south Moorhead was referred to a Twin Cities attorney. That attorney had not returned a phone call as of late Wednesday.

A "for sale" sign was present in Hewitt's yard. According to an online listing for the property, the home was listed very recently.