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Former county corrections officer drops appeal of his firing

BRENTWOOD — A corrections officer who was fired from his job has withdrawn an appeal seeking reinstatement.

A public hearing was scheduled for last Friday on Keith Nelson's appeal, but it was called off when he decided not to fight the dismissal.

Nelson was fired amid an investigation into his wife, Ann Marie Nelson, 55, of Chester, who was indicted on theft charges for allegedly manipulating her husband's payroll records and overbilling Rockingham County during her employment.

She is accused of giving her husband $12,000 for overtime pay and other shifts he didn't work.

At the time of the thefts, Nelson's wife was the jail's office administrator and oversaw payroll records submitted to the county's finance department.

Nelson, who was a corporal at the jail, was not charged.

"Cpl. Nelson still insists that he did not deserve to be terminated, but at this point the well has been poisoned and he has moved on with his life and has other employment," said attorney William Cahill, who represents Nelson on behalf of Teamsters Local 633.

Under state law, Nelson's only option for appealing was to have his hearing held in public, Cahill said.

County officials have said little about Nelson's firing. Prosecutors have said Nelson was fired following an internal investigation by the Rockingham County Department of Corrections that was independent of the sheriff's department probe into the criminal case against his wife.

The appeal was to be heard by the delegation's personnel committee whose members are the delegation chairman, vice chairman and clerk.

State Rep. Norm Major, chairman of the county delegation, said last week that Nelson's attorney sent the county's attorney a message saying he was withdrawing his request for a hearing.

Major said he wasn't told why Nelson had decided not to continue with the appeal.

County Commissioner Kate Pratt, board chairman, said she also wasn't sure of the reasons.

"I honestly don't know what his thinking was or what he was advised to do," she said. "All I know is he wanted (the appeal hearing), which is fine. It was his right to do it."


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