Sheriff candidates talk charges against ex-Criminal Investigations supervisor – Reuters

SALISBURY — The circumstances that led to felony charges against a former Rowan Sheriff’s Office supervisor were “no secret” and produced a “sticky situation” in the department, says Travis Allen, an investigator who present at the post of sheriff.

Allen made the comments first in a December 12 video posted to his campaign’s YouTube account and repeated the same in a phone call a week later with the Post. Allen, a Republican candidate for sheriff, said he made the video to respond to a letter to the editor published in the Post and to provide campaign updates.

In the video, Allen spoke briefly about the charges against Rodney Mahaley – a lieutenant in charge of the Criminal Investigations Division until his retirement just before being charged. Mahaley was a supervisor in Allen’s chain of command. He is accused of possessing a stolen weapon for years before being charged.

“It was no secret to anyone in the office,” Allen said. “It was a very tricky situation over the summer and fall. … No one at the sheriff’s department liked this situation.

Allen defended the integrity of the Criminal Investigations Division and said the sheriff, not individual investigators, had the authority to take action against Mahaley.

In a phone call with the Post, Allen said anyone under criminal investigation should be placed on administrative leave. Allen also said his comments did not condemn the actions of Sheriff Kevin Auten.

Asked about the case, some Rowan County sheriff candidates expressed a similar view — that law enforcement officers facing criminal charges should be furloughed.

While a statement released Nov. 9 by the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office says Mahaley was suspended while the state’s Bureau of Investigation conducted an investigation into the stolen gun, his personnel file shows no evidence. suspension of this type. He retired on October 29 and was charged the following week.

“What happened with Mahaley was not a suspension as a disciplinary action and did not result in any loss of salary,” said Kelly Natoli, deputy county manager and human resources manager. “That’s the only information I can give that’s in the public domain.”

Chief Deputy David Ramsey said Lt. Rodney Mahaley was placed on administrative leave with pay for six weeks on September 16.

Republican sheriff candidate Greg Hannold runs the Rowan County Detention Center and is a member of the department’s staff. Hannold declined to comment on the validity of the criminal charges and defended the actions of the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office, Chief Deputy David Ramsey and Sheriff Kevin Auten.

“Our reputation within the community dictates that we do everything in our power to be transparent and open,” Hannold said. “I believe we did this by responding quickly once we became aware of the charges. We allowed someone other than our own officers to investigate so there was no appearance improper or incomplete investigation The decision was made whether or not to pursue the matter through a field office to avoid the appearance of preferential treatment.

Mike Caskey, Rowan County Commissioner, Charlotte police officer and Republican sheriff candidate, spoke broadly when asked about his thoughts on the case, saying he was only aware of details reported by the media.

“If you believe an employee may have committed a crime, obviously you should furlough that person,” Caskey said. “If they end up being charged, you don’t want them working on any other cases during that time.”

Brad Potts, a retired state trooper and Republican candidate, questioned whether someone should be allowed to retire if they’re under criminal investigation and said, “I still think that you should be furloughed if you were going to be charged.”

Potts said he was concerned about how the criminal charges could affect previous investigations awaiting a court verdict. He also said law enforcement officers should be held to a higher moral standard than the general public and lead by example.

Jack Eller, a businessman and Republican candidate, said Mahaley was innocent until proven guilty in court. Eller said the stolen gun case could have been handled sooner, internally and without the need for charges.

Mahaley legally purchased a .22 caliber rifle worth $375 in January 2017, but it was the subject of a criminal investigation a month later, according to a statement from the sheriff’s office and court documents. A Rowan County Sheriff’s Office investigator working on a case involving the gun in March 2017 told Mahaley, the investigator’s immediate supervisor, that the gun was stolen. He was never returned and he was promoted in 2019, according to court documents and his personnel file.

Last month, Mahaley was charged with possession of stolen property as well as two counts of obstructing justice.

Carlton Killian, a Democratic candidate for sheriff, said the charges against Mahaley were surprising.

“Things happen, but this circumstance basically surprised me,” Killian said, adding that no one is guilty until proven in court.

Killian did not offer a specific prescription for how he would handle the case as sheriff.

Simon Brown, another Democratic candidate for sheriff, declined to comment until he could learn more about the Mahaley case.

Randall Livengood, who previously declared a Republican candidacy for sheriff, said he no longer plans to do so.

Nominations for the 2022 ballot are currently suspended due to court cases that cross legislative district and congressional boundaries. Several Rowan County sheriff candidates began their campaigns in early 2021 after it was discovered that Auten planned not to seek re-election.

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 10:20 a.m. Dec. 28 to clarify the type of action staff took when administrators at the Rowan Sheriff’s Office became aware of the stolen gun case.

Mark M. Gagnon