Vince Ariaz got his job back as a Brownwood police officer — but not for long.
Ariaz, who completed his 29th day Tuesday in the Brown County Jail, was taken off indefinite suspension, retroactively placed on “voluntary leave without pay” status from July 17 through Tuesday, and allowed to retire, effective Tuesday, according to a settlement that also ended Ariaz’s plans to appeal his suspension.
Brownwood City Council members approved the settlement Tuesday in a 4-1 vote. Councilman H.D. Jones voted “no.”
“It is … understood and agreed that this agreement is entered into … for the sole purpose of avoiding the time, expense and uncertainty which would accompany any possible arbitration and/or litigation …” the settlement states.
Mayor Bert Massey said the settlement has nothing to do with the criminal case against Ariaz, who has been jailed since July 17 on accusations that he had sexual contact with two teenage girls.
According to the settlement, indefinite suspension letters of July 17 and July 30 will be removed from Ariaz’s personnel file and he was reinstated to employment as a police officer effective July 17 as though he had never been suspended.
Ariaz’s absence from the force from July 17 to Tuesday will be considered voluntary leave without pay, and he will not be paid any back wages.
Brownwood Police Chief Virgil Cowin placed Ariaz on indefinite suspension the day he was arrested — which amounted to firing him, Cowin has said.
Ariaz had requested that an arbitrator hear his appeal.
Before the settlement, Ariaz had a right to appeal his indefinite suspension according to the rules of the Civil Service Commission.
“An indefinite suspension is, essentially, a termination subject to his right to appeal it,” City Attorney Pat Chesser said.
Jones said he voted against the settlement because of the nature of the accusations against Ariaz. “I didn’t want my name on it,” he said. “That’s just the way I feel about it.”