Ogemaw County board votes for internal probe of sheriff’s department

County attorney will conduct probe within 30 days
Ogemaw County Sheriff's Office
Ogemaw County Sheriff's Office(WJRT)
Published: Apr. 8, 2021 at 6:12 PM EDT
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OGEMAW COUNTY, Mich. (WJRT) - A mid-Michigan county board is moving forward with an investigation of the sheriff’s department.

This follows a series of accusations we brought to light during an ABC12 investigation.

In a 5-0 vote, the Ogemaw County Board of Commissioners gave the go-ahead to its attorney to look into whether deputies acted properly.

The attorney has 30 days.

We are also getting a clearer look at the state police investigation into an insurance fraud complaint against a deputy, which resulted in no criminal charges.

“It was unanimous, all commissioners agreed to proceed,” says Ogemaw County Administrator Tim Dolehanty.

The board approved a resolution today to start an internal investigation into allegations made against deputies, which were first reported in an ABC 12 News story in February.

An allegation of insurance fraud, a strange gun sale, a proposed fight, with more allegations to follow in a lawsuit filed against the county by Jake Francisco and Trista Smith-Spencer, who claim their towing company was shunned and targeted by the sheriff’s department.

“They are serious enough that it would be wrong for the organization to simply walk away from that, again, if there are things going on that shouldn’t, we have an obligation to put a stop to it,” says Dolehanty.

One part of the probe will most likely take a closer look at an insurance fraud accusation against deputy Brian Gilbert, Jr., the sheriff’s son.

A special prosecutor did not issue criminal charges, but an unredacted Michigan State Police report shows tow truck driver Michael Spencer admitted he enhanced the damage to Gilbert, Jr.’s personal Yukon by driving into a tree with a dead deer strapped to it.

In the report, the detective asked Spencer if he notified Gilbert after he drove the vehicle into the tree, and he stated “he did notify him. Spencer admitted that Gilbert was thankful that the damage was enough to get it totaled.”

Dolehanty has not seen the unredacted report. He says the 30 day time limit for the probe could be extended.

“Do we need to adopt more policies, do you need to instill additional training, hopefully those guidelines will come through this report,” he says.

We reached out to Sheriff Brian Gilbert, Sr. and left a message for him about this new investigation, but we did not hear back.

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