The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio
A sergeant with the New Holland Police Department in Pickaway County who filed criminal charges last week against his village mayor, his former chief and his interim chief was fired Monday.
Sgt. Charles “Brad” Mick filed the charges Friday and executed a search warrant Saturday night at his department headquarters and the administrative offices at Village Hall.
On Monday night, Mick showed up just before the start of a special meeting of the village council and served Mayor Clair “Butch” Betzko with his court summons for the charges against him. When he left the meeting and served interim Police Chief David Conrad in his office, Mick was fired on the spot.
Mick, on a live video feed from the meeting, emerged from the chief’s office and told the crowd, “Folks, just to let you know, when you do the right thing around here, you get terminated for it.” He said later that he will file for whistle-blower protection.
It’s the latest in a string of bizarre developments and controversies to envelop the part-time, volunteer department in the town of about 800 people.
Mick filed a fifth-degree felony charge of forgery in Circleville Municipal Court against Conrad, the interim chief who also is Pickaway County’s emergency management director; and a fifth-degree felony charge of complicity to commit forgery against Betzko, a former longtime deputy with the Franklin County sheriff’s office.
According to the search warrant signed at 7:32 p.m. Saturday by Municipal Court Judge Gary Dumm, Conrad is suspected of forging the signature on July 16 of former Police Chief William “Jason” Lawless on a form that was submitted to the Ohio attorney general’s office. That form was required to note Lawless’ change of status in the village from chief to reserve officer. Betzko signed the form as well.
In his search warrant affidavit, Mick wrote: “Jason Lawless was believed to be in the state of Alabama on that date and not present in the state of Ohio.” Mick also wrote that the village employee who signed the form as a witness to the signatures told Mick that Lawless’ signature was forged.
Lawless resigned this month, saying that he and his family were moving out of state. His announcement came after Conrad had been charged by the Pickaway County sheriff’s office with criminal trespassing during a stakeout Lawless and Conrad said they were conducting while on property owned by a woman who had been a vocal critic of Lawless and the department. Those cases remain open.
Conrad couldn’t be reached for comment Monday, and Betzko did not return a call from The Dispatch.
Mick wrote in the affidavit that another village employee told him of other documents that Betzko had forged. Mick requested the warrant for Village Hall to look for “records, ledgers and documents,” and reported afterwards that he did confiscate some paperwork.
Both Pickaway County sheriff’s deputies and Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers were at the scene during the search, but neither actively participated.
In addition to the charges filed against Conrad and Betzko, Mick has filed misdemeanor charges of telecommunications harassment and dereliction of duty against Lawless for what court records say was Lawless’ role in helping a local woman harass Derek Myers, a man who runs an online news site about Pickaway and surrounding counties. Those new charges say Lawless had the woman — who faces her own charge of telecommunications harassment — call from Lawless’ desk phone at the police department and taunt Myers.
Mick also charged Betzko with a misdemeanor charge of obstructing official business for trying to stop Mick from interviewing the woman involved in that phone call, according to the records.
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