Sandusky County, OH — Six police chiefs publicly accused the local sheriff on Friday of stealing drugs from their departments and lying about his involvement with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). The police chiefs also blamed the state’s attorney general and Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) of stalling the investigation for political purposes.
In April 2015, Sandusky County Sheriff Kyle Overmyer met with Police Chief Mark Kaufman at Bellevue Police Department and allegedly told the police chief that he was collecting drugs for the DEA. Loosely managed by the DEA, the drug disposal boxes at Bellevue and the surrounding police departments were intended to keep unused pills, including antibiotics and painkillers, from being improperly discarded or illicitly sold.
Relatively new to the job, Chief Kaufman agreed to hand the drugs over to the sheriff without verifying his claims. Unbeknownst to Kaufman, the sheriff subsequently appeared two more times to steal drugs without his presence.
“Well, I didn’t realize he had been there the other two times,” Kaufman told the Sandusky Register. “And my detective didn’t think anything of it. It was the sheriff picking up these things. He told us – he told me personally – he had an agreement with DEA and just kept it in whatever facility he had, and he said they come and pick it up a couple times a year.”
After learning that Overmyer had appeared two more times in his absence to take more drugs, Kaufman brought up the subject at the police chiefs’ monthly meeting on August 19. Kaufman recalled, “I said, ‘Hey, lemme ask you guys something. You’re way more experienced than I am at this. Have you guys ever had this happen?’ And then, all of a sudden, everyone’s going, ‘Yeah, he was over at my place.’ Then we’re starting to… This wasn’t just me.”
Kaufman continued, “When I talked to DEA the next day, I learned that the sheriff in fact did not have an agreement with them, and secondly that they told me they had discontinued the pick-ups a couple years ago, and that they were starting again.”
Following the monthly meeting, chiefs Charles Horne and Kaufman repeatedly called BCI Agent Jeff Cook to request the status of the investigation and offer to be interviewed. Instead, police chiefs discovered that the BCI had informed Overmyer about the accusations against him.
Although Attorney General Mike DeWine later claimed that he had no knowledge of the accusations against Sheriff Overmyer, Gibsonburg Police Chief Paul Whitaker asserted that DeWine spoke with him on September 27, and the state’s attorney general falsely assured Whitaker that the investigation was ongoing. The next day, coincidentally on DEA Drug Take Back day, BCI Superintendent Tom Stickrath continued the false narrative, while Agent Cook informed Chief Horne that the criminal allegations against Overmyer were “trivial and minor.”
“That was the day they designated to go around to all the departments in a Ryder truck and collect all these drugs,” Whitaker recalled. “They collected 61lbs just from Clyde Police Department. So there’s a lot of drugs being collected out of a 26-county area.”
Due to the fact that the police chiefs, the sheriff’s office, and the Sandusky County prosecutor’s office recently formed a drug task force, the police chiefs felt extremely uncomfortable running the new assignment along with a board member that they believe has stolen drugs from their departments. According to the police chiefs, Overmyer has ignored repeated requests to answer questions regarding his suspicious behavior. After two months without any results or interviews taken by the BCI, the police chiefs pressured BCI Superintendent Stickrath into re-launching the investigation.
“This is a fledgling task force,” Whitaker clarified. “There has never been an organized, unified, paid-for drug task force in Sandusky County’s history. So there’s a lot at risk here. And part of it is the integrity of the countywide drug task force. Particularly when we’re seeing information that suggests that the sheriff of the county could be doing some wrongdoing here involving drugs.”
After the BCI informed the police chiefs that the agency intended to re-launch their investigation, the chiefs threatened to release a press statement if the BCI continued to drag their feet. Although the BCI claimed they were not stalling their investigation, the police chiefs eventually decided to announce their press release on Friday.
“BCI has been given ample time and opportunity, more chances to conduct an investigation than we ever get in cases,” Whitaker asserted. “And then we start to get word that possibly the police chiefs are assisting some way in covering up for Sheriff Overmyer, which is bullshit.”
On Friday, Fremont Police Chief James White, Bellevue Police Chief Mark Kaufman, Gibsonburg Police Chief Paul Whitaker, Green Springs Police Chief Charles Horne, Clyde Police Chief Bruce Gower, and Woodville Police Chief Roy Whitehead released a statement accusing Overmyer of taking the drugs under false pretenses. According to the police chiefs, Sandusky County Sheriff’s Capt. Sean O’Connell admitted the drugs are currently missing and could not be found anywhere on the grounds of the sheriff’s department. The chiefs also implied Sandusky County prosecutor Tom Stierwalt has a conflict of interest in investigating the sheriff who he works with and represents on a routine basis.
Although TheFreeThoughtProject attempted to reach Sheriff Overmyer, the BCI, and state’s attorney general office for comment, none were willing to respond.
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