New Holland Police Department Sgt. Charles “Brad” Mick has filed fifth-degree felony charges against the village’s mayor and interim police chief in Circleville Municipal Court.
The New Holland interim police chief, David Conrad, is charged with forgery, and New Holland Mayor Clair “Butch” Betzko is charged with complicity to commit forgery.
After the charges were filed Friday, a search warrant signed by Circleville Municipal Court Judge Gary Dumm was executed to search the New Holland Village Office at 10 E. Front St. The warrant was served Saturday at 7:32 p.m., according to court documents.
According to the law enforcement probable cause affidavit, the alleged forgery occurred on or about July 16. The affidavit claims that Conrad “forged the signature of former Police Chief William “Jason” Lawless on a form known as SF400 (notice of peace officer appointment) and submitted that form to the Ohio Attorney General’s office.”
This form was meant to remove Lawless as chief of police and appoint him as a village police officer. Lawless had already resigned, according to reports. He is believed to have been in Alabama on the day the document was signed, according to the search warrant affidavit.
The probable cause affidavit read, “Conrad forged Lawless’s signature under ‘oath of office’” and Mayor Betzko “falsely acknowledge [sic] and signed that Lawless was present and took the oath of office.”
According to this affidavit, “comparing the signature on the SF 400 to 14 signatures that Jason Lawless had actually signed, and based on the witness statement and Mayor Betzko’s accompanied signature, it is apparent this is an act of forgery in which he was complicit.”
In the search warrant affidavit, Mick alleges that the forgery of Lawless’s signature is not the only forgery that has occurred in New Holland. In the affidavit, Mick says, “On July 19, 2018, I was approached by village employee Joey McQulniff, who informed me that he had first hand direct knowledge that Clair Betzko had fabricated more documents recently and submitted them to the state of Ohio, specifically a job application for village employee Patrick Betzko.”
Mick also filed two misdemeanor charges against Lawless, the former New Holland police chief, for allegedly helping a local woman harass another man and call him a derogatory name. The affidavit claims that Lawless allowed the woman to use his office phone to harass the man.
Lawless is charged with telecommunications harassment and dereliction of duty.
Reach Megan Neary at 614-440-9124 or @MeganNeary2