WEST BRANCH, Mich. (WJRT) - A battle is brewing between a mid-Michigan county board of commissioners and the county’s sheriff department.
The Ogemaw County board has made the unusual move of removing the funding for a position in the sheriff’s department to prevent the sheriff from promoting his son.
This moves comes after an internal probe into allegations of misconduct by some deputies, prompted partly by an ABC12 News investigation.
The Ogemaw County Board of Commissioners has passed a resolution on a 5-0 vote to eliminate the funding for a vacant sergeant’s position in the sheriff’s department.
It made the move believing Sheriff Brian Gilbert was planning on promoting his son, Brian into the spot.
The county attorney conducted an internal probe into allegations of misconduct by certain deputies, including the younger Gilbert, who was investigated for insurance fraud. A special prosecutor declined to issue any criminal charges following a Michigan State Police investigation.
Deputy Gilbert declined to speak with a state police detective about the allegation during that investigation, and according to the resolution, he didn’t speak with the county attorney either during this current probe.
“The indication to the board is, he is not cooperating with us, his integrity has been eroded with the board of commissioners and rather than allow the promotion to go through, the board opted instead to in effect, eliminate the unfilled position of sergeant to prevent that promotion from occurring,” says Dolehanty.
Dolehanty says the county board has no say on who the sheriff hires or promotes, but it does control the budget.
The elimination of the sergeant’s position means a cut of about $81,000, including salary and benefits.
Sheriff Gilbert says he is okay with the move the commissioners made, saying “we are moving forward, we are thinking about our whole, entire office. We’ll get through this and give the people of Ogemaw County what they want and deserve from the sheriff’s office. We are looking ahead, not behind.”
Deputy Gilbert’s attorney, Duane Hadley, says the reason the deputy did not speak with the county attorney was because of the civil lawsuit that has been filed against the county, in which the deputy is also named as a defendant.
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