Alpharetta, Milton settle dispute with former solicitor for $100K

The city of Alpharetta has agreed to pay its former solicitor $100,000 to avoid a lawsuit.

City Council approved the settlement during a Monday meeting — after former solicitor Fran Shoenthal McQueen demanded hundreds of thousands more, according to a demand letter sent to the cities of Alpharetta and Milton in May.

Alpharetta’s legal counsel represented both cities in the dispute with McQueen, who prosecuted cases in both municipal courts until April of this year.

She was employed by Milton for 15 years and worked as a contractor for Alpharetta for 20 years. McQueen believed she was unfairly replaced by new solicitor Kelsie Mattox, according to the demand letter from attorney Debra Schwartz.

Schwartz said in the letter that McQueen was entitled to work as solicitor in Alpharetta through December 2025, pursuant to the city charter. McQueen wanted a lump sum payment that would cover her salary over a 44-month period, the letter stated. If not received, she planned to file charges of age and race discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and take other action as well.

Her 2021 salary was $148,000, according to Alpharetta officials.

McQueen signed a document dated Sept. 20 that settles the dispute with a payment of $100,000. Her attorney declined to comment.

Alpharetta City Council approved the payment by a 6-1 vote, with Councilman Jason Binder in opposition. Binder said he did not approve of any monetary compensation in the cities’ dispute with McQueen.

According to Alpharetta, $75,000 will be paid by insurance. The remaining $25,000 will be paid from taxpayer funds. Alpharetta officials would not confirm if that amount will be split with Milton.

McQueen is tied to another controversial matter in Alpharetta.

The judge who presided over thousands of cases that she argued in Alpharetta Municipal Court also represented her in a civil matter. The conflict of interest appeared to lead to former Judge Barry Zimmerman’s retirement in July.

Zimmerman was investigated by the Georgia Judicial Qualifications Commission and is the subject of an investigation currently being conducted by a law firm for Alpharetta.