Firefighter linked to Bandidos loses appeal on termination

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Former Waco firefighter Bill Dudley will not be reinstated and will be listed as terminated from his job nearly five years after he was arrested and linked to Bandidos Outlaw Motorcycle Club, an arbitrator has ruled.

Thomas Cipolla with the American Arbitrator Association sent his decision to the city of Waco on Monday, saying the indefinite suspension that was placed on the 13-year fire department veteran will be upheld.

Cipolla, who oversaw his final hearing with the city in November, stated Dudley’s indefinite suspension should be corrected to a termination.

Dudley was arrested during a traffic stop in Tarrant County on May 12, 2015, and charged with unlawfully carrying an unconcealed weapon in his truck. Crowley police ran a safety check on Dudley and found that the Texas Department of Public Safety flagged him as a member of the Bandidos, which DPS classifies as a “criminal street gang.”

His arrest occurred five days before a deadly shootout at the Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco between the Bandidos and rival Cossacks motorcycle club. Dudley was indefinitely suspended after his arrest and appealed his termination, seeking to be reinstated.

During the hearing last year, an internal investigation into the Crowley arrest stated Dudley did not obey rules and regulations; was absent from work without good reason; failed to notify the department within 24 hours of his arrest; used poor judgment that reflects negatively toward the fire department and the city; and demonstrated poor moral character by associating with and/or being a member of a known criminal street gang.

Dudley’s appeal lasted four years before Cipolla oversaw his final hearing in November. State union representative Rafael Torres represented Dudley during the hearing along side Waco fire Lt. Philip Burnett, president of Waco Professional Firefighters Association Local 478.

“The Waco Professional Firefighters Association respects the final decision of the arbitrator and is satisfied that the appellate received all the rights he was afforded under the civil service statues,” Burnett said.

Dudley testified he was a former member of a support club for the Bandidos and wanted to start a new chapter of the Bandidos near his home in Burleson. He said he was considered a Bandidos recruit for several months, but he left active membership in the clubs after he was injured in a Fort Worth bar shootout involving Bandidos in 2014.

Torres said Dudley was not a member of the motorcycle club, and the city did not have the legal right to terminate him. Torres said the city denied Dudley’s due process rights and relied on circumstances outside the scope of a 180-day Civil Service review for disciplinary action.

Cipolla sided with former Waco Fire Chief John Johnston for his suspension. Cipolla stated Johnston acted appropriately and that Dudley violated civil service commission, local governmental code, the local fire department’s personal conduct orders, and the city’s policies and procedures.

Attorneys Lu Phan and Antonio Allen represented the city in the hearing. City spokesman Larry Holze did not return a phone call or email from the Tribune-Herald on Tuesday seeking comment.

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