By RODNEY HART Herald-Whig Staff Writer
First Assistant State's Attorney Gary Farha has been suspended for 30 days without pay for "a lapse of judgement," State's Attorney Jon Barnard said.
Farha was put on paid administrative leave earlier this week by Barnard after reportedly trying to intervene during his nephew's arrest by the Quincy Police Department. Barnard would not comment about the incident but did confirm it involved "a relative."
Farha's nephew, Michael D. Farha, 21, was arrested early Sunday morning. Court records show Michael D. Farha, a son of Quincy Alderman Michael H. Farha, was arrested for driving under the influence, driving without valid insurance, improper lane usage and having open alcohol in the vehicle. Farha also had a contempt of court warrant out of McDonough County.
In a press release, Barnard said he reviewed the evidence and interviewed those involved with the incident.
"This involved, without discussing the particulars of a personnel matter, a lapse in judgement involving the balance between professional responsibilities and personal loyalties in a police matter involving a relative," Barnard said in a press release. "The incident, in my judgement, warrants discipline. This action strikes the appropriate balance between corrective discipline and compassion, under the particular circumstances of this case."
Barnard said Farha is "deeply remorseful" and has apologized to all concerned. Farha will be welcomed back to the office upon his return, Barnard said.
"Where professional duties and loyalties to family come into conflict, those professional responsibilities clearly require that a person in that position not involve himself in a law enforcement matter regarding a family member. He did," Barnard said. "He crossed a very clear line. That said, it is important to keep in mind that this is a very talented and dedicated professional who acted not out of malice or dishonesty, but out of passion and instinct to protect a family member. However understandable that might be, it was inappropriate."
Quincy Police Chief Rob Copley has declined to comment.
Farha is primarily responsible for drug-related prosecutions for the state's attorney's office. Barnard, who himself is prosecuting a jury trial case today, has five other assistant state's attorneys in his office.
Farha opened his own practice in 1984 and was a public defender in Adams County from 1985-88. He was hired by then-State's Attorney Barney Bier as a part-time assistant state's attorney in June 1995. He was promoted by Barnard to first assistant state's attorney in January 2006.