Sunnyside keeps interim city manager on the job, off paid leave following arrest

SUNNYSIDE, Wash. -- Sunnyside Council members met in executive session Wednesday and decided quickly to keep Interim City Manager Frank Sweet on the job for now. Sweet will not be placed on paid administrative leave following his Tuesday arrest.

KIMA asked Sunnyside's mayor, "What went into that decision?"

"His past record as interim city manager, the job he's done and he hasn't been proven guilty of anything yet," said Sunnyside Mayor Mike Farmer.

KIMA asked Farmer, "Do you feel Sunnyside city leaders rushed their decision as far as making Frank Sweet the interim city manager, potential city manager?"

"No. Frank has just done an excellent job for us and he's well worth waiting for and he's actually the candidate we want...still." Farmer said.

Selah accuses Sweet of stealing a city-owned laptop and hard drive as well as destroying public documents at the end of his 20-year tenure as Selah's city supervisor.

Investigators say a private audit of the city's computer records blamed Sweet for illegally removing more than 150 e-mails relating to official city business.

Court documents obtained by KIMA indicate officers found the missing electronics after searching Sweet's home. Investigators say Sweet originally told Selah's city attorney the computer just disappeared.

To get all sides, KIMA contacted Frank Sweet directly and was referred to his lawyer. His attorney claims Sweet is the target of retaliation and calls the search illegal.

KIMA asked Sweet's attorney, "Was a laptop and hard drive not recovered? Did it not belong to Selah? Is that what you're saying?"

"You'll see it in our papers," said Attorney Tyler Firkins. "I'm not going to litigate it on the phone here."

For now, Sweet's getting paid almost $100,000 a year from Sunnyside and what's left of his $134,000 severance package from Selah.

Frank Sweet's attorney said he's working on a motion to dismiss the case altogether; of course that will be up to the judge.

Firkins also said Sweet will file a civil lawsuit against the city of Selah for damages.

Sunnyside Mayor Mike Farmer couldn't confirm when Sweet would be back in the office.

Prosecutors have until Thursday to file formal charges. Sweet is scheduled for his arraignment in two weeks.