CHESTER | Former police Chief Alfred Wagner was paid more than half his annual salary when he retired from his position two weeks ago.

The Board of Selectmen accepted Wagner's resignation on June 21 and also issued him a check for $34,320 on that same date, according to financial documents released by the town this week. Wagner's annual salary this year was $66,989.

Wagner, reached yesterday at his Auburn home, said the $34,320 was the amount the town offered him as part of a financial agreement to leave his position after 20 years as police chief. Neither he nor selectmen have said what led to the decision to part ways.

Selectmen Chairman Mike Weider and the other four members of the Board of Selectmen did not return calls seeking comment on the agreement yesterday.

Wagner, 58, has had a number of run-ins with selectmen over the years but has declined to say if that had anything to do with his decision to retire.

In 2004, selectmen angered the chief when they told him he could no longer take his town-owned police cruiser home at the end of the workday, as he had been doing since he was hired in 1988. Wagner claimed the board was targeting him, but the board said its decision was based on the added wear-and-tear he was putting on the vehicle and the increased cost of gas.

Wagner also came under fire in 2005 after he proposed a plea bargain to a man accused of assaulting two police officers. The plea deal, which was thrown out by the judge, would have dropped the assault charges against the man in exchange for his pleading guilty to a drunken-driving charge. That led selectmen to hire an outside law firm to help prosecute cases.

Before becoming police chief in Chester in 1988, Wagner worked as a police officer in Maine for 15 years.

Wagner said yesterday that he plans to relax for the summer and begin looking for another position in August. He said he is not sure if he will continue working in law enforcement.

On the same night that selectmen accepted Wagner's resignation, they also promoted Deputy Chief Bill Burke to interim police chief. Burke has been with the department for 13 years.

Burke earned $47,349 this year, and he said selectmen haven't decided yet whether he will receive a pay increase as a result of his promotion.

Selectmen are expected to form a hiring committee for a new chief, but Burke said that isn't expected to happen anytime soon. He also said he would accept the position as the permanent chief if it were offered to him.



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