A former city of Dothan employee who oversaw an after-school meal program, now allegedly under FBI investigation, is asking for her job back.
Stephanie Wingfield, a recreation program coordinator, filed an appeal of her termination in Houston County Circuit Court in September against both the city of Dothan and the Dothan Personnel Board.
Members of the Dothan Personnel Board upheld the city's termination of Wingfield in August.
Oral arguments began in Houston County Circuit Court on Tuesday afternoon.
According to WTVY, Wingfield allegedly used a retired city of Dothan employee's signature to apply for federal funding reimbursements for the after-school feeding program. She also allegedly "ordered subordinates to falsify paperwork" so Dothan could receive federal funding for the program during the COVID pandemic.
The Dothan feeding program contract eventually went to a restaurant called Breakfast at Tammie's.
Over two years, the city of Dothan paid Breakfast at Tammie's $2.7 million for meals and snacks, according to documents obtained by WTVY.
According to court documents, Ramona Marcus, Dothan's Finance Director, testified at the personnel board hearing that Wingfield's alleged "mismanagement of the program" has a "potential to affect federal funding citywide for several years" due to the city of Dothan now "most likely being listed as a high risk auditee."
According to a transcript of the personnel board hearing in August, Latonya Dorsey, the owner of Mama T's restaurant in Dothan who also bid for the feeding program contract, complained to Dothan City officials in May about "improprieties with the bidding process."
On Tuesday, Richard Rice, Wingfield's attorney, told WTVY that "we're cautiously optimistic" the court will reverse her termination. Rice said on Tuesday that Wingfield was fired before there was an adequate investigation into allegations that led to her termination.
The Dothan City Commission revised the after-school nutrition program in August by contracting with Dothan City Schools to regularly provide 200 dinners and snacks to students. Dothan was providing approximately 1,800 to 2,000 dinners and snacks regularly at the height of COVID, according to Kevin Cowper, Dothan City Manager.
To connect with the author of this story or to comment, email caleb.taylor@1819News.com.
Don't miss out! Subscribe to our newsletter and get our top stories every weekday morning.