A District of Columbia hearing examiner, assigned to review the appeal of a city prosecutor who was fired after a crackdown on traffic ticket cancellations, was asked yesterday to remove himself from the case because 32 traffic tickets issued to his car were canceled during a 15-month period in 1976 and 1977, knowledgable sources said.
Michael H. Sindler, a city appeals and grievance examiner, accumulated the tickets while he was employed by the city's Department of Transportation, the sources said.
As of late yesterday afternoon. Sindler had not decided whether to remove himself from the case, sources said. The D.C. Corporation Counsel's office has asked the city's director of personnel to remove Sindler from the case if he refuses to step aside voluntarily in order to avoid "the appearance of impropriety," sources said.
Sindler said yesterday he could not comment because the appeal process is similar to a court proceeding.
Sindler was assigned by the city's personnel director to review the case of Victor O. Frazer, an assistant D.C. corporation counsel, who was dismissed in April after he allegedly refused to pay $1,180 for tickets canceled by him or by other prosecutors at his request, sources said.
In a letter to then D.C. corporation counsel John R. Risher Jr., Frazer contended that "since time immemorial" city prosecutors were "allowed and indeed urged" to adjust tickets for fellow employes.
Frazer and another assistant corporation counsel, C.B. Jones, were fired by Risher when they reportedly refused to pay what the city claimed they owed on canceled tickets.
A formal hearing on Frazer's case was scheduled yesterday before Sindler, but was abruptly postponed when Assistant Corporation Counsel Leo N. Gorman, representing the city, raised a question about Sindler's traffic tickets, informed sources said.
Sources have said the corporation counsel's office ran a computer check through the city's Central Violations Bureau this week and discovered the number of cancellations for tickets issued to Sindler.
Other sources said Sindler told both the corporation counsel's office and Frazer's attorney at a preliminary hearing in August that he had tickets adjusted while he was a city employe. The tickets were also brough to the attention of acting D.C. Corporation Counsel Louis P. Robbins, but no objections were raised, at that time sources said.
Sources have said that once the total number of ticket cancellations was known city attorneys felt they had to ask Sindler to step aside.
Sindler has maintained that the canceled tickets were issued in connection with his transporation department assignment, sources said. It was considered a common occurrence for city employes to have tickets canceled prior to a crackdown by the corporation counsel's office in the fall of 1977, sources said.
As a hearing examiner, Sindler conducts the appeals hearing, takes evidence under oath, makes findings of fact about the case and then sends his recommendation on the case to the mayor for a final decision on the appeal. In Frazer's case, Sindler could either decide the Frazer's dismissal was warranted or recommended that he be reinstated in his job.
The corporation counsel's office has contended that Frazer as an assistant city prosecutor, "frequently abused" his discretion in connection with ticket cancellations.
Both Frazer and JOnes, who is also appealing his dismissal, have denied any allegations of wrongdoing and have claimed they were only following accepted office practice at the time.
The handling of traffic tickets in the D.C. Superior Vourt has been the subject of an investigation by the city judicial tenure commission for several months. Also, a federl grand jury here is investigating an alleged pattern of favoritism by D.C. Superior Court Judge Robert H. Campbell in the handling of large numbers of overweight truck tickets.