New Holland, OH – A judge has ordered that a police sergeant who was fired for being a whistleblower must be reinstated at his police department and receive full back pay.
New Holland Police Sergeant Brad Mick was terminated right after he executed a search warrant on his own department and filed charges against the mayor, police chief, and former police chief on July 23, 2018.
Sgt. Mick told Blue Lives Matter that he was relieved to have his job back, but he doesn't yet know when he actually returns to the New Holland Police Department.
Sgt. 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.
Regardless of the preparatory steps he had taken, Sgt. Brad was fired on the spot after he served New Holland Interim Police Chief David Conrad with a court summons for the charges against him during a meeting of the village council, 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.
He appealed his termination and contended that his termination was political retaliation for the search warrant and summonses he served upon his supervisors.
Pickaway County Court of Common Pleas Judge P. Randall Knece agreed with that assessment and ordered that Sgt. Mick be reinstated to the police department, the Fayette Advocate reported.
"I'm thrilled about Judge Knece's ruling," Sgt. Mick told Blue Lives Matter. "It's been a nine-month long process and I'm looking forward to serving the citizesn of New Holland again. I thank them and everyone else who has supported me"
Sgt. Mick said the time since he was fired has been financially stressful for him and his family and he suffered some depression as a result.
Knece determined that Sgt. Mick should also receive full back pay for lost wages going back to the date he was fired.