Probe eyes ex-cop's computer business
In high school, Jim Duda was known for his love of science and technology.
His understanding of computers and information technology was incorporated into his job duties as a New Milford police lieutenant.
His supervisors praised his technological savvy, according to performance evaluations.
Supporters of the police administrator who has recently fallen from grace -- the 45-year-old was fired March 4 due to allegations he intentionally destroyed police computer equipment, including at least one Dell laptop computer -- say he was a whiz with the latest computer gadgetry.
A few individuals have said he assisted them with arranging proper computer applications for their businesses.
Indeed, former Lt. Duda's skill with computers went beyond his work at the department.
In 1996, he opened a home-based computer business, New Tech Computer Systems, which he currently operates, according to town tax assessor records.
Sources close to the investigation into his professional conduct said questions have been raised about whether or not his private business dealings had any bearing on how he operated as the department's head of information technology.
Chief Shawn Boyne and Mayor Pat Murphy said last week they were initially unaware that Lt. Duda had an off-duty computer business and that the mayor's decision to terminate his employment was strictly related to his on-duty conduct.
Since that decision was reached, however, Chief Boyne said he has been alerted to a number of other allegations he needs to look into before he can write his final report on the reasons for Mr. Duda's termination.
Whether they involve any of his off-duty business dealings has yet to be determined, the chief said.
Chief Boyne confirmed he consulted the State's Attorney's Office in Litchfield about the initial findings, and they were not enough to warrant criminal charges.
Mr. Duda's attorney, Daniel Hunsberger of Ridgefield, said he sees no connection between his client's personal business and his role in the police department. It is far from uncommon for police officers to work side-duty jobs, he noted.