FIRE MARSHAL MITCHEL’S REMOVAL.
On July 10, Fire Marshal Mitehel appeared before the fire commissioners to answer the charges preferred against him. Motion for a dismissal of these charges on the ground of their not being sufficiently specific was refused, whereupon Mitchel’s attorneys submitted several affidavits in favor of the accused official. Mr. Mitchel’s defense consisted of a general denial of the charges and an insistence on the fact that, as the commissioners had made the assignments and appointments, he was not responsible for the acts of Assistant Marshal Frank and Lenz, the detective-policeman.
The commissioners, after declining to dismiss the charges, reserved their decision till Monday when they removed Mr. Mitehel from office. In announcing their decision, the board found that Fire Marshal Mitehel had, without protest, permitted Assistant Fire Marshal Frank, and Lenz, the detective-policeman attached to his bureau, to continue on duty there despite all warnings as to their cliarj acter, and that he f urther neglected to discover,or failed to report that they were allied with organized bands of incendiaries; that he allowed certain matter to be compiled from the records of his bureau and published in a nonofficial paper, and supplied its editor with a communication relative to the official business of the department without the knowledge or consent of the commissioners; that, again without permission or knowledge of his superiors, he approached the city comptroller as to the possibility of drawing money from the city treasury to pay witnesses or informers in cases of arson; that he likewise obtained, or permitted the New York Board of Underwriters and other insurance companies to payout considerable sums of mouey for such purposes without the knowledge or permission of the commissioners; and lastly, that he impaired the efficiency of the bureau in the work of detecting and convicting firebugs, alienating the good will of the police force by claiming, or allowing to be claimed for himself the whole credit forconviction in arson cases furnished by the detective bureau.
The board therefore declares that, under the administra tiou of Mitehel, organized incendiarism was allowed to assume a bold front, owing to the encouragement and immunity the bands received from collusion with officials in the bureau of which he was the responsible head. The board further finds that Mr. Mitehel has been culpably wanting in ’‘independence and strength of character and in intelligence in the performance of his duties,” necessary for a fit incumbent of the office, and that even In his denial of the evidence brought against him he has been evasive and uncandid; has contradicted his own official statements in the other official documents submitted to the board, and has offered no satisfactory explanation of the facts calling for his removal.
He was therefore removed, and Assistant Fire Marshal Augustine J. Wilson was placed in temporary control of the bureau. The commissioners likewise removed Charles R. Soteldo, superintendent of the store department (Henry D. Purroy’s protege), and Daniel Deleaney, storekeeper, These two departments were merged into one, of which William M. Graham was made the head; in conjunction with him, Commissioner Ford, chairman of the committee on supplies, will directly superintend the purchase of supplies.