Did Fullerton Police Chief Michael Sellers Violate His Contract By Not Moving To Fullerton From San Clemente?

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Michael Sellers
​At this point, further tarnishing of Fullerton Police Chief Michael Sellers' reputation just adds insult to injury -- after all, he is on medical leave. 

Property records show that Sellers lives in San Clemente, about 40 miles from his job. Of course, this isn't any big secret. The last line of Sellers' bio on the city's website reads: "Chief Sellers and his wife, Rita, live in San Clemente. They have four sons, one daughter and six granddaughters." 

The question raised in KTLA's story about Sellers' contract and residence, however, is whether the police chief has made an effort to relocate to Fullerton and, if so, how much of an effort.

According to Sellers' contract, which he signed on April 7, 2009, he agreed to "make a bona fide effort to relocate his primary residence to Fullerton no later than December 2010." Now, almost a year after that deadline, KTLA reports that Sellers still lives in a gated community in San Clemente. 

Of course, gas money for the commute probably wasn't much an issue considering his $192,100 per year salary. And now that his paid medical leave was extended again he doesn't have to drive at all. He first went on medical leave in August, following public frustration over his handling of the department after police officers beat Kelly Thomas to death.

Councilman Bruce Whitaker told KTLA he thinks Sellers showed "no efforts of any sort" to move, adding that he thinks the city "should press the matter." Whitaker has spoken with the City Manager Joe Felz about the potential breach of contract, KTLA reports, adding that he thinks an "internal opinion" is forthcoming. 

Of course, the looseness of the language makes it hard to judge how much trouble Sellers would be in. According to a law dictionary, the term "bona fide" means "good faith." Felz didn't return a call for comment or to clarify what exactly would constitute whether Sellers had made a good faith effort to relocate. 

Gretchen Beatty, director of the city's human resources department, said she couldn't comment on the legal importance of the term "bona fide," but added that only some of the department head-level city employees have contracts that include the line about making an effort to relocate.


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