ANDERSON — The city Parks and Recreation Department has rehired a former employee who was fired for smoking marijuana on the job.

Nathaniel Burnett, who was a working foreman for the Parks Department, was again working for the department as of May 5, said Fred Reese Jr., superintendent,

“His position is the same position he held previously,” said Steve Priser, the city’s personnel director. “He was returned to the previous position at the same pay rate.”

In February 2006, Burnett was stopped by Madison County Drug Task Force detectives in the parking lot of Pay Less Super Market on Cross Street after he and fellow Parks Department worker Richard Gallamore were seen driving up and down the parking aisles and behind the building, according to the affidavit filed with the charges.

In October 2007, City Court Judge Donald Phillippe dismissed the charge against Burnett, ruling that the officers did not have probable cause to stop the employees, thus suppressing all evidence found in the stop.

At the court trial, Burnett admitted to smoking the drug, which he said he received from the driver Gallamore, according to the affidavit.

According to Phillippe’s order, Doug Zook, parks superintendent at the time, had gone to police officials with suspicions that the two employees were smoking marijuana during work hours. This information was passed on to the detectives, who followed the two men for several days before they were arrested.

Burnett was not compensated for the year he was unemployed, Priser said.

At an unemployment hearing, a judge found that Burnett was terminated improperly, Priser said.

Mayor Kris Ockomon said a suit Burnett had filed against the city had been settled.

“If he was exonerated in a court of law, then he’s exonerated,” Ockomon said. “Hopefully, he learned his lesson. I believe in giving someone a chance.”

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