Acting City Administrator Speaks For First Time About Termination Of Fort Smith Sanitation Director

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FORT SMITH (KFSM)—Acting City Administrator Jeff Dingman spoke for the first time since he fired the Department of Sanitation director at the end of last year.

“There were four items that were outlined in his termination letter,” Jeff Dingman said. “The first one being insubordination in terms of a directive I had given him as his immediate supervisor.”

Baridi Nkokheli worked as the director of the Fort Smith Department of Sanitation for more than ten years. Dingman fired him on December 7, 2015.

“There are other items that came to light to various degrees as far as allegations go, but the ones that were included in the termination letter were ones I felt were substantiated enough to my satisfaction to show the violations did occur,” Dingman said.

Additional reasons listed in the termination letter were the solicitation of a personal loan from a vendor the city does business with and soliciting personal loans from his subordinate employees.

“Then the fourth one was the direction of city employees to evaluate a personal car for maintenance purposes in the city shop and on the city time,” Dingman said.

All allegations which Nkokheli denied in an interview with 5NEWS the day after he was fired.

In August 2015, the city auditor's office looked in to Nkokheli's credit card and travel expense reimbursement reports, which noted he rented a luxury car and arrived in Tampa for a conference three days early.

“There was disciplinary action taken last fall that were related to some specific trips that were taken in April,” Dingman said. “And it was directed by me to him to reimburse the city a specific amount and he was doing that the time he was terminated.”

He was asked to pay the city back more than $1,500. In correspondence with the city auditor, Nkokheli denies that any of the spending was against city policy. Dingman said all the money Nkokheli owed the city has been paid back.

5NEWS attempted to reach out to Nkokheli for comment Tuesday (Feb. 23), but could not reach him.

He was scheduled to be at a bankruptcy hearing at 9 a.m. at the Federal Courthouse in Fort Smith.