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Ogemaw County Sheriff wants taxpayers to foot bill for law firm he hired

Sheriff hired outside legal counsel despite county board policy which requires advance approval
Published: Sep. 7, 2021 at 6:07 PM EDT
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OGEMAW COUNTY, Mich. (WJRT) - The latest now on the growing tension between the Ogemaw County Sheriff and the county’s Board of Commissioners.

The sheriff is requesting county taxpayers pay for a legal bill after he hired his own law firm.

The county has its own legal counsel, but Sheriff Brian Gilbert disagreed with an internal investigation the county attorney did following an ABC 12 News story. A federal lawsuit was also filed against the county. The sheriff hired his own law firm and expects taxpayers to foot the bill.

The county is being sued, in part over allegations against some deputies in our story and a federal lawsuit, the board removed funding for a vacant sergeant’s position, and now there’s another an issue that’s causing trouble. Gilbert wants the county board to approve paying a $3,700 bill from a law firm he hired, despite a county board policy that states any outside legal work has to be approved by the board in advance.

“The sheriff explained that he wanted to consult other attorneys simply because he was not really in agreement with the result of the investigation,” says county administrator Tim Dolehanty.

Gilbert was not happy with a probe done by Ogemaw County’s attorney Greg Meihn, who recommended his own report on past alleged misconduct in the sheriff’s department be turned over to the Attorney General’s office and the FBI.

Gilbert hired the law firm of Abbott Nicholson, which sent him the invoice, but apparently wanted to keep what legal work it did a secret, because it’s mostly redacted.

“We have dates, we know when consultations occurred, we know roughly the time spent, but we have no idea what the subject of those conversations was,” says Dolehanty.

Its not clear how that legal bill will be paid.

We reached out to the sheriff a couple of times but did not hear back.

We also called and left a message for the Abbott Nicholson law firm, but again, the message was not returned.

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