Sarah Welcenbach charged with misconduct in office
STAR JOURNAL REPORT
An Oneida County detective sergeant has been arrested and charged with two felony counts of misconduct in public office.
Sarah Welcenbach (also known as Sarah Gardner) is accused of stealing money from confidential funds from 2010 to 2014. At that time, Welcenbach was in charge of the sheriff department’s drug unit.
If convicted on both charges, Welcenbach could face up to three years of initial confinement in prison, followed by four years of extended supervision, and/or fines totaling $20,000.
“There are no words to describe how I felt when I had heard Sarah Welcenbach was alleged to have been involved in the theft of money from confidential funds from 2010 to 2014,” Oneida County sheriff Grady Hartman said. “Sarah Welcenbach has not only been alleged to have stolen money, she also violated our trust, and the public’s trust. She has tarnished the badge of every sworn officer who has promised to protect and serve.”
Hartman said Welcenbach is on unpaid leave and hasn’t worked at the sheriff’s department since August 2014. He also stated that since the discovery of the alleged theft, the drug unit has new leadership and continues to arrest subjects involved in the distribution of controlled substances.
According to a press release issued Wednesday afternoon, the sheriff’s office contacted the district attorney when the missing funds were discovered in 2014 and the investigation was turned over to the Wood County and Portage County sheriff’s offices and the attorney general’s office.
Assistant attorney general Christopher A. Liegel has been assigned as a special prosecutor in the case.
State Department of Justice spokesperson Johnny Koremenos said Welcenbach surrendered herself to the Oneida County sheriff’s department Wednesday morning, went through the booking process and was released without bail to make an initial appearance.
Because this presented a conflict of interest to the sheriff’s department during the arrest and booking process, Koremenos said Welcenbach was accompanied by Wood County sergeant investigator Scott Machotka, who has been the lead investigator in the case.
Though the DOJ had hoped Welcenbach would have made her initial appearance Wednesday afternoon, Koremenos said both judges in Oneida County are recusing themselves and the initial appearance has been postponed until a judge from another county is assigned.