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Published: Wednesday, 7/11/2001

Former chief pleads guilty in Reading weapon case

READING, Mich. - The former police chief pleaded guilty yesterday to one misdemeanor weapon charge and surrendered four unregistered handguns and metal knuckles to the Michigan State Police.

David Graham, who was dismissed as Reading police chief May 11, faced four charges involving illegal and unregistered weapons. The charges were filed after Mr. Graham shot himself in the foot and police discovered he had not registered his guns and owned metal knuckles, which are illegal.

But in a deal reached between his attorney and the prosecutor, two misdemeanor charges of safety-inspection violations and a felony charge of possession of a dangerous weapon were dropped.

Mr. Graham, 33, who could not be reached for comment, was fined $100 and received no jail time.

Hillsdale Prosecutor Neal Brady said he was satisfied with the agreement. He added that he hoped the conviction would hinder Mr. Graham from pursuing another position in police work.

“We in the law enforcement community were able to observe him for a year, and he wasn't properly trained,” Mr. Brady said. “I think he's better suited for a different career.”

Mr. Graham was hired as Reading chief in March, 2000, after working for the Chicago Housing Authority. After he was dismissed, many of Reading's 1,134 residents rallied around him and demanded an inquiry about City Manager Don Beavers' decision to fire him. Residents even threatened to recall members of city council if they did not seek Mr. Beavers' resignation.

Mayor Randy Sprow said the weapon charges came about after Mr. Graham's dismissal and were not considered when he was fired.

The fact that Mr. Graham never received his Michigan law enforcement certification - a requirement of the position - was given as a reason why he was let go.

City officials have not given any other details about his dismissal, citing Mr. Graham's privacy rights.

Mr. Sprow sad he was saddened by the situation and the division it caused in the community. However, he said, “I'm not going to apologize for the action of the city manager. We did the right thing.”

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