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Fired prosecutor disputes claims about work performance

A recently terminated assistant county prosecutor has found new employment with the city, and is speaking out against claims made about her work performance by Washington County’s prosecutor.

Amy Bean was fired May 1, which she said was a surprise.

Bean was fired by Washington County Prosecutor Nicole Coil, who defeated Bean in this spring’s primary election. She said she talked to Coil before she decided to run and was told it would not be a problem.

“Little did I know that around the time I filed my petition and started campaigning that she started a one-sided running documentation to build a case to let me go as soon as the election was over,” Bean said. “It appears very strange that prior to my declaring my candidacy that there were no documentation in my file.”

Bean had worked for the prosecutor’s office since 2011, but other than certificates and payroll information, there was nothing documented in her personnel file until November.

The majority of the complaints were about plea deals she agreed to or judicial releases she didn’t oppose, as well as a lack of communication regarding cases, and unprofessional conduct witnessed by courthouse employees.

Coil said the election was not the reason Bean was fired.

“I did not terminate Ms. Bean because she ran against me. We did have one discussion prior to the first of the two elections, and I said that it was up to her if she wanted to run,” Coil said. “Ms. Bean and the rest of the office were aware that law enforcement was often dissatisfied with her work prior to her running for office. I cannot say why her prior employer did not document this in her personnel file.”

Coil has been serving as interim prosecutor since June 2019 after the conviction of former Prosecutor Kevin Rings on coercion charges.

Bean said she was reprimanded for getting a five-year sentence for Ryan Starkey, who shot at two people. She said there were evidentiary issues regarding the gunshot residue.

“Also, this is a case where I discussed at length with the victims the different possible outcomes,” Bean explained. “It should be noted that I had fought for eight years and the judge felt like five years was a reasonable sentence based on the facts and circumstances of the case.”

Coil said her complaint about Starkey’s case was that he was given a personal recognizance bond prior to sentencing as part of the plea agreement. While he was out, he committed a new crime.

She said she has worked in the prosecutorial field for more than 13 years and her professionalism has never been called into question.

Complaints in Bean’s personnel file included that she was overheard using profanity in the courthouse.

“I agree that the unprofessionalism documented by others in the courthouse during the election period was not characteristic of (Bean’s) conduct or demeanor, and those actions did not form the basis of my decision (to fire Bean),” Coil said.

Bean explained that during her time working with Coil, the prosecutor had never discussed any of her concerns with any of Bean’s plea deals.

“Professional courtesy would have been to discuss those with me personally,” she said. “In fact, she rarely spoke to me at all. I was made to feel as an outsider.”

Coil said she wouldn’t discuss plea agreements of individual cases as it wasn’t appropriate, but meetings and conversations were held when Coil expressed that she was displeased with plea agreements and judicial release decisions.

Bean said she tried hard not to bring politics into the office, but the courtesy wasn’t extended to her. She added that those in prosecutor’s office have used profanity on a daily basis.

“It is true that Ms. Bean and the other assistant prosecutors do use some profanity within the office,” Coil agreed. “To my knowledge, however, no one in my office has directed profanity toward another current staff member other than Ms. Bean.”

Bean started a new position Monday as assistant city law director for the City of Marietta. Law Director Paul Bertram said as far as he was concerned, the prosecutor’s office loss was his gain.

“The position for which she applied and was accepted is a grant position as a prosecutor handling cases that involve offenses of violence, such as domestic violence, assault, things of that nature,” he said. “She has experience in that.”

He said he’s been city law director for almost nine years and he’s had five assistant law directors.

“She’ll stay and give it stability, which it needs,” Bertram said of the position. “She learns from the people she works with. This is a situation where you learn from one another. I think she’ll be a good asset.”

He said she’ll handle misdemeanors for Washington County and thought she’d be a good fit as she was acting prosecutor in Morgan County and was assistant prosecutor in Washington County.

“She has the experience of jury trial. She knows how to handle civil matters and she knows the people in the area,” he said. “It strengthens the office that she won’t leave in a year or two years.”

Michele Newbanks can be reached at mnewbanks@mariettatimes.com.

At a glance:

•Amy Bean was fired as Washington County Assistant Prosecutor on May 1.

•She refutes claims of lack of communication and unprofessional conduct.

• She started Monday as Marietta’s Assistant Law Director.

• In new position, she’ll handle offenses of violence, such as assault and domestic violence.

Source: Times research.

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