MSP investigation clears Clare County Sheriff

October 30, 2015

Sheriff John Wilson shows one of the coffee mugs, included in a misuse of funds complaint, that allegedly said “vote for Sheriff John Wilson,” when it actually advertises for a drug free county.

Sheriff John Wilson shows one of the coffee mugs, included in a misuse of funds complaint, that allegedly said “vote for Sheriff John Wilson,” when it actually advertises for a drug free county.

By Pat Maurer

The investigation into complaints about the procedures, missing evidence and misuse of funds and equipment at the Clare County Sheriff’s Department turned up no wrongdoing on the part of Sheriff John Wilson and his staff, a release said Monday.

A release from Wilson said, “In the middle of September our department was contacted by the Michigan State Police regarding a complaint filed claiming that ‘evidence,’ a cross bow, was allegedly missing from our property room; claiming illegal property room and auction procedures; and about the misuse of county equipment.”

“We gave our full cooperation to Investigators and invited them to come and review everything pertaining to the issues [raised] and procedures on how these matters are handled.”

Wilson’s release said both he and several other employees were extensively interviewed by “out of the area” State Police Detectives about the issues raised. He said he believed the results of the investigation were sent to an “out-county” prosecutor for review.

He said he was notified Monday by the MSP Detectives that there would be no charges and that the case is now closed.
In an interview Wednesday, Wilson said he hasn’t seen the complaint, but believes that the allegations “may have been an attack on him by a disgruntled former employee.”

He said the crossbow he was asked about as part of the investigation was not “evidence,” but seized property in a drug forfeiture case about two years ago. He said he fired the crossbow and returned it. “Paperwork filled out by an officer on the crossbow said it was destroyed,” he said.
Another item he was questioned about was concerning discarded furniture from the 911 department. “A table or desk was being thrown out,” he said. “I took it home to use in my garage then left it outside for about two weeks. Someone saw it there and claimed it was ‘county property’ I had taken for my personal use. I returned it.” He said it was then broken up and thrown away.

He was questioned about another item, coffee mugs that allegedly were purchased by his department that said, “Elect John Wilson,” He said the “mood mugs” (that changed color when a hot beverage was put inside) actually said, “Sheriff John Wilson says I’m in the mood to keep Clare County drug free,” and that their purchase was an approved one. “That was about a year and a half ago,” he said, “nowhere near any election date.”

Procedures on seized property allow the Sheriff’s Department to use, sell or trade in items that are confiscated, Wilson said. “Sometimes we take items to a store in Lansing and trade them in for credit to purchase new items needed for the department without using county funding.”

He continued, “I don’t handle that. I don’t have anything to do with the financial end of any purchases or sales of property. That is the job of the Undersheriff. My job is to oversee the whole operation, the employees and procedures of this department.”

He added, “The Clare County Sheriff Department funds are regularly audited both by county auditors and by the State Treasury Department.
He said other employees interviewed during the investigation were from Finance, Administration, Maintenance, and secretarial parts of the department.
“The investigation was conducted by unbiased MSP Detectives from outside our area,” he said. “They didn’t find any evidence that I, or anyone else in the department, did anything wrong.”

He did say he thought it was strange that something like this would come up just a year before he will be running for re-election. “It’s discouraging to have something like this happen,” he said.

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