Sara Welcenbach accused of mishandling drug unit funds
STAR JOURNAL REPORT
After two days of testimony last week in the Oneida County Board Room of the Courthouse, an evidentiary hearing against sheriff’s department detective sergeant Sara Welcenbach is slated to resume Sept. 6 with three more days set aside for the county’s Law Enforcement Grievance Committee to consider the charges against her.
Welcenbach, who is presently on unpaid leave and hasn’t worked at the sheriff’s department since August 2014, was accused of improperly handling confidential funds when she was in charge of the drug unit with the sheriff’s department.
According to the statement of charges filed against her by sheriff Grady Hartman, chief deputy Dan Hess and Civil Service Commission chairman Timothy B. Melms, money Welcenbach was responsible for in the drug unit had been discovered missing.
A report prepared by captain Mark Neuman and captain Terri Hook detailed eight categories of missing money, the evidence related to each category of missing money and Welcenbach’s response to the evidence in her interview.
The statement of charges further notes Hartman, Hess and the Civil Service Commission “all believe that Welcenbach has acted in a manner to merit dismissal,” as determined by the county code and state law, and requested that she be dismissed as a county employee.
Welcenbach elected to have an evidentiary hearing in open session before the five-member committee comprised of two County Board members and three non-County Board members that is able to determine whether there is “just cause” under state law to suspend, demote or discharge Welcenbach.
Welcenbach was also charged in Oneida County Circuit Court with two felony counts of misconduct in office. However, those charges were dismissed as part of a diversion agreement.
Grievance Committee chairman Alan Van Raalte said the county has one more witness left to testify, while only one witness appearing on behalf of Welcenbach had testified July 26-27. He noted he expects two more days of testimony when the evidentiary hearing resumes in September with a third day set aside if necessary for committee deliberations.