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Ogemaw County Board may request report from sheriff on allegations of misconduct

Resolution to be voted on at Thursday’s meeting
Ogemaw County Sheriff's Office
Ogemaw County Sheriff's Office(WJRT)
Published: Feb. 24, 2021 at 6:07 PM EST
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WEST BRANCH, Mich. (WJRT) - The Ogemaw County Board of Commissioners may exert its power to force an investigation into a towing dispute involving sheriff deputies.

Commissioners are planning to vote on a resolution Thursday. If it passes, Ogemaw Sheriff Brian Gilbert Sr. would have to complete a report about the potential misconduct or commissioners potentially could invoke a state law to remove him from office if he doesn’t.

“It’s serious. It’s just directing the sheriff to make the report,” said Ogemaw County Administrator Tim Dolehanty.

The Ogemaw County Board of Commissioners will be presented with a resolution for approval at Thursday’s meeting, calling for Gilbert to complete a report on allegations that surfaced in an ABC12 News story earlier this month.

“If the sheriff does not provide the report, by the date specified in the resolution, then they can by a two-third vote, remove the sheriff from office, hopefully it won’t come anywhere near that,” Dolehanty said.

He said a state law gives the county board the power to make such a move.

One of those allegations of concern is a Michigan State Police investigation of an insurance fraud complaint against deputy Brian Gilbert Jr., who is the sheriff’s son. A special prosecutor is reviewing the case.

Gilbert released a statement after a board meeting two weeks ago saying the previous sheriff conducted an internal investigation of the allegation and found no wrongdoing. The previous sheriff, Howie Hanft, later said that is not true.

“They would certainly like to get to the bottom of it. There was or there wasn’t -- it should be a clear issue that should be able to be defined with a yes or no answer,” Dolehanty said about the board’s concerns on the conflicting statements.

The sheriff is also being asked to explain the termination of part-time deputy Glenn Gutierrez, who lost the sheriff’s race to Gilbert. Gutierrez, who spoke at the last board meeting, said he was informed in early February that he was losing his job because it was limited-term position and the position had expired.

But at the meeting, Gilbert said Gutierrez was let go because he was not up to date on his firearms certification.

“It did leave open some questions as what led to his departure from the department,” Dolehanty said.

If the board approves that resolution Thursday, Gilbert will have to present that report by March 12.

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