A former Washington County Jail administrator acquitted earlier this year on charges he stole medication has filed suit against the Washington County Sheriff's Office and Sheriff Larry Mincks.
In the suit, filed Thursday, Lowell resident Dean Ketelsen alleges Mincks and the sheriff's office targeted him despite lacking evidence that any medication was actually missing and to the exclusion of other possible suspects. Ketelsen, who is representing himself, seeks at least $250,000 in damages for himself and his wife, claiming the "malicious publication of false statements" about him in the media and the causing of "severe emotional distress and anguish of mind" for the couple.
A response has not yet been filed by the sheriff's office. Mincks referred questions about the case to Cheri Hass, the Columbus attorney retained by the department's insurer to represent both Mincks and the office. Hass was not available for comment Monday afternoon.
Mincks said Washington County Prosecutor Jim Schneider, who would normally represent a county agency, recommended outside counsel due to the workload at his office.
Ketelsen had worked for the sheriff's office for 26 years when he was placed on administrative leave in the fall of 2010 while an investigation was conducted. An inmate's report that three pills were missing from a blister pack he received eventually led to the allegation that 1,400 painkiller pills had been taken as well.
Ketelsen was indicted in September 2011 on two fourth-degree felony counts of theft, and acquitted in a bench trial - decided by Washington County Common Pleas Judge Ed Lane instead of a jury - in March.
Timeline of events
Fall 2010 - An investigation into the alleged theft of medication at the Washington County Jail begins and jail administrator Capt. Dean Ketelsen, a 26-year employee of the sheriff's office, is placed on administrative leave.
Jan. 28, 2011 - Ketelsen resigns. His letter makes no direct reference to the investigation.
Sept. 6, 2011 - Ketelsen is indicted by the Washington County Grand Jury on two fourth-degree felony counts of theft.
March 28, 2012 - Ketelsen found not guilty by Washington County Common Pleas Judge Ed Lane.
Thursday - Ketelsen and his wife file suit against Mincks and the sheriff's office, seeking $250,000 in damages.
Source: Times research.
During the trial, the defense maintained Ketelsen destroyed the missing pills but did not follow the jail policy of having medication destroyed in the presence of two officers, who would then file an incident report.
In the suit, Ketelsen says the sheriff's office proceeded with its investigation against him even though "no evidence had been uncovered liking Plaintiff Dean Ketelsen to the theft of drugs."
"Despite this knowledge, Defendant Mincks made statements to the press suggesting the plaintiff was guilty of theft of drugs," the suit says.
Ketelsen also notes in the suit that he passed a polygraph test but claims other jail employees' results were "inconclusive, suggesting deception, but those employees were not subjected to any further investigation."
The lawsuit seeks a minimum of $25,000 in compensatory damages for Ketelsen and his wife, as well as $100,000 in punitive damages.
The case has been assigned to Washington County Common Pleas Judge Susan Boyer.