New Holland, OH – A police sergeant was fired right after he executed a search warrant on his own department and filed charges against the mayor, police chief, and former police chief.
New Holland Police Sergeant Brad Mick filed a whistleblower protection affidavit with New Holland Fiscal Officer Mavis Yourchuck a week before he arrived at a special meeting of the village council and served Mayor Clair “Butch” Betzko with a court summons, the Fayette Advocate reported.
The Fayette Advocate reported that Sgt. Mick filed the same whistleblower protection affidavit with the mayor, police chief, and New Holland Village Council Vice President Gregg Shaw.
“Pursuant to the Whistleblower Protection Act of Ohio and Revised Code 4113.52, let this serve as my notification that I believe felonies are being committed by New Holland Mayor Clair ‘Butch’ Betzko and New Holland Village Marshal David Conrad,” read the affidavit. “Pursuant to R.C. 4113.52(A)(1)(a), this is my complaint. The village and its administration are hereby put on notice that you are barred from seeking retaliatory measures against me, including but not limited to:
● Removing or suspending the employee from employment;
● Withholding from the employee salary increases or employee benefits to which the employee is otherwise entitled;
● Transferring or reassigning the employee;
● Denying the employee a promotion that otherwise would have been received;
● Reducing the employee in pay or position.”
On Monday night, after he served the mayor, Sgt. Mick served New Holland Interim Police Chief David Conrad in his office with a court summons for the charges against him, and was fired on the spot, the Columbus Dispatch reported.
“Folks, just to let you know, when you do the right thing around here, you get terminated for it,” Sgt. Mick told the crowd afterward on a live video feed from the meeting.
The Columbus Dispatch reported that the part-time, mostly volunteer New Holland Police Department, which serves a town of 800 residents, has been caught up in a number of scandals and controversies lately.
On July 5, the Columbus Dispatch reported Chief William “Jason” Lawless had resigned his position, effective July 15, and claimed he was moving out of state for his wife’s job.
Former Chief Lawless also served as the village administrator, for which he was paid a $65,000 annual salary, although his volunteer police chief position was unpaid.
He has been chief since the police department was created in December of 2016.
The chief ran for sheriff of Pickaway County twice and lost both times, according to the Columbus Dispatch.
In May, the Pickaway County Sheriff’s Office charged then-Chief Lawless and New Holland Police Captain David Conrad with a misdemeanor count each of criminal trespassing after the two ignored requests to leave the property of a woman they’d had an ongoing speed trap battle with just outside the village, the Columbus Dispatch reported.
Both men pleaded not guilty, and a special prosecutor was appointed to handle their cases. But in the meantime, Capt. Conrad was appointed the interim police chief upon the departure of Chief Lawless.
Sgt. Mick’s allegations against the former and current police chief have everything to do with that transfer of power.
According to the search warrant signed at 7:32 p.m. on July 21 by Municipal Court Judge Gary Dumm, Chief Conrad is suspected of forging former Chief Lawless’s signature on a form that was submitted to the Ohio attorney general’s office on July 16, the Columbus Dispatch reported.
The form was required to change the police chief’s status from chief to reserve officer, and had also been signed by the mayor.
In the affidavit requesting the search warrant, Sgt. Mick wrote that former Chief Lawless was in Alabama on the date the paperwork was signed, and also noted that the village employee who witnessed the signatures on the form admitted that the former chief’s signature was forged, the Columbus Dispatch reported.
Sgt. Mick filed a fifth-degree felony charge of forgery in Circleville Municipal Court against Chief Conrad, who also is Pickaway County’s emergency management director, according to the Columbus Dispatch.
He also filed a fifth-degree felony charge of complicity to commit forgery against Betzko, the mayor who is also a former Franklin County sheriff’s deputy.
Sgt. Mick also filed misdemeanor charges of telecommunications harassment and dereliction of duty against former Chief Lawless for his role in helping a local woman harass the editor of a local online news website, the Columbus Dispatch reported.
The former chief was alleged to have let the woman call and taunt the man from his desk phone at police headquarters.
The mayor was also charged with misdemeanor obstructing official business for trying to stop Sgt. Mick from interviewing the woman who made the harassing phone call from the chief’s desk, court records showed.
Sgt. Mick was fired just seconds after he served the targets of his investigation with summonses, in direct contradiction to the whistleblower protections provided by Ohio law, the Fayette Advocate reported.
“If they have followed the proper protocols and successfully navigated the legal channels, whistleblowers in Ohio have legal recourse for retaliatory actions taken against them as a result of their whistleblowing,” Cincinnati attorney Robert A. Klingler told the Fayette Advocate.
Since Sgt. Mick filed his whistleblower paperwork before he was fired, he has grounds for a lawsuit, or to have his job reinstated, according to an employment attorney with the Spitz law firm.
The attorney told the Fayette Advocate that after appropriate action was taken, it was possible that Sgt. Mick would be reinstated to the New Holland Police Department before the end of the week.
If you wish to show your support for Sgt. Mick, a GoFundMe campaign has been established to assist with expenses related to his fight to get his job back.