New Holland Police Department Sgt. Charles “Brad” Mick was fired Monday evening at a special village council meeting after he had filed fifth-degree felony charges against the village’s mayor, Clair “Butch” Betzko, and interim police chief, David Conrad.
Conrad has been charged with forgery, and Betzko has been charged with complicity to commit forgery.
The forgery charges surround an incident that allegedly occurred “on or about July 16” according to a law enforcement probable cause affidavit. The affidavit claims that Conrad forged the signature of former police chief William “Jason” Lawless on a form that would remove him as police chief and appoint him as a village police officer. Also according to the affidavit, Betzko “falsely acknowledge [sic] and signed that Lawless was present and took the oath of office.”
Mick filed the charges in Circleville Municipal Court on Friday. He also executed a search warrant Saturday night at the New Holland Village Office, 10 E. Front St.
In a video of Monday evening’s Village of New Holland council meeting in which Mick was fired, he said, “Folks, just to let you know, when you do the right thing around here you get terminated for it.”
Someone in the crowd could be heard shouting, “That’s retaliation.” When asked why he was terminated, Mick replied, “For filing charges on the mayor and the chief of police.”
The video was shared to Facebook by the Scioto Post. The Record-Herald did not receive public notification of the special council meeting.
In a written statement, Mick said, “As I wrote in my affidavits, there is probable cause of criminal violations and I carried out my oath of office by investigating them. As a result, evidence was obtained that supported the complaint and charges were filed. I started this process and I will see it through to the end. My termination does not undo the criminal acts by others and it will not erase evidence or dismiss the charges. While it is disheartening and a violation of the law to be retaliated against and terminated for obeying the oath of office, it does not stop here. This is about the law and the law will be carried out. What is right is right, and what is wrong is wrong. It doesn’t matter who you are. No title or office should shield you with immunity.”
John Gonzales, village solicitor to New Holland, wrote in a statement that “the decision to terminate Sgt Mick’s employment with the Village was made prior to the recent events. He did not receive formal notice of termination until last (Monday) night because he avoided communication with the Village. Sgt. Mick has abused his position as a Village police officer. He appears to be pursuing a personal agenda with these baseless charges. He has violated the established chain of command and conducted an improper search and destruction of Village property. Had he, in good faith, believed that crimes were committed by Village employees, he should have taken his evidence to the County Prosecutor, Ohio Attorney General or County Sheriff, who are empowered to properly investigate and, where appropriate, bring charges.
When asked for clarification as to why Mick was fired if it was not related to “recent events,” Gonzales replied, in an email, “because we are anticipating a civil lawsuit for wrongful termination, I am not in a position to answer any questions regarding his termination.”
The Record-Herald visited the New Holland Village Office on Tuesday. Mayor Betzko and Chief Conrad were not in the building and, at press time, they had not returned requests for comment. Fiscal officer Mavis Yourchuck said she had “no comment.”
Reach Megan Neary at 614-440-9124 or on Twitter @MeganNeary2