Town of Geneva cop faces felony charges
April 21, 2010 | 09:18 AM
|DID HIS WORK PUT OTHER CASES IN JEOPARDY?
A case against an alleged child molester may be at risk after an investigator allegedly falsified reports and mishandled evidence.
On March 19, the Walworth County District Attorney's Office filed two felony charges of misconduct in office against former town of Geneva Sgt. Robert Haase. If convicted, he faces up to seven years imprisonment and $20,000 in fines.
The case potentially at risk is against Scott J. Anderson, 49, Springfield, who faces a felony charge of repeated sexual assault of the same child. If convicted, the charge carries a maximum penalty of 60 years in prison.
On Monday, Deputy District Attorney Joshua Grube — who has been prosecuting the case against Anderson — said he couldn't comment on the matter.
However, Anderson's attorney's, Robin Shellow and Michael O'Rourke, are asking the court to dismiss the charges.
On Feb. 3, Anderson's attorneys and Geneva Town Police Chief Ed Gritzner and town police officer Ken Mulhollon met for three hours to discuss the case and review evidence.
During the meeting, both parties found evidence of misconduct allegedly perpetrated by Haase.
According to court documents filed by Anderson's attorneys, it was discovered that:
n Haase intentionally altered one of two inventory sheets, so as to obfuscate the date certain evidence was seized.
n Haase also made a sanitized set of daily logs for distribution to the parties. He deleted references to a warrant application from the Police Department's computer server. However, it was discovered the unsanitized version remained in the paper file. That's how the alterations were discovered.
On Feb. 3, Gritzner and Mulhollon agreed it is impossible to determine the circumstances and times of evidence seizures, according to court documents.
This isn't the first time Haase's police work has been called into question.
On Nov. 19, the Geneva Town Police Commission demoted Haase to a patrolman and suspended him for 90 days.
The day after the hearing, Nov. 20, Anderson's attorney wrote a letter to Walworth County Circuit Court expressing concerns about the handling of evidence.
"There is electronic evidence that has been tainted; there has been physical evidence that has been withheld; there have been evidence logs that have been mishandled," Anderson's attorneys wrote. "There have been electronic recordings which have not been disclosed."|
Elkhorn — A former town of Geneva police sergeant will find himself in the defendant's chair of a courtroom April 26.
Two felony charges were filed Monday afternoon against Robert B. Haase, 42, Elkhorn, for misconduct in office. One charge concerns allegations of intentionally falsifying a recorded statement, the other for failure to perform his duty.
If convicted, he could face up to seven years imprisonment and $20,000 in fines.
Haase will have his initial appearance at 1 p.m. in front of Walworth County Circuit Court Judge Michael Gibbs.
On Monday, Walworth County District Attorney Phillip Koss said he couldn't comment on the charges. An attempt to obtain comment from Assistant District Attorney Diane Donohoo was unsuccessful by press time.
However, it appears Haase isn't on the streets in uniform representing the police departments in the town of Geneva or city of Delavan. He was a part-time officer in Delavan.
"Officer Haase will remain on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of these charges," Geneva Town Chairman Dan Lauderdale stated in an e-mail Monday. "The filing of criminal charges merely involve accusations and punishment should not be imposed until such time as there becomes a determination of guilt."
Delavan Police Chief Tim O'Neill said he also is monitoring the situation. Part-time employees in the city department are employed at-will, and Haase has since been removed from the schedule, O'Neill said.
He said he is concerned about the nature of the charges against Haase.
"We're always concerned," O'Neill said. "We have no direct reason to be, but we are certainly concerned in a general sense."
This is the latest in a series of troublesome events for Haase's police career.
The felony charges are the outcome of an investigation recently conducted by Walworth County Sheriff's Department Capt. Dana Nigbor.
In March, Nigbor said her investigation was related to Haase's involvement in the alleged mishandling of evidence and falsifying of reports in an April 2008 sexual assault case.
"I don't think I'll go into great detail, but obviously, I found some evidence of the mishandling of evidence (and) some documentation on evidence sheets were wrong," she said.
Nigbor said some of the documentation made it appear as if certain pieces of evidence were collected on dates they weren't.
The handling of evidence in the sexual assault case was discussed during a Nov. 19 hearing by the Geneva Town Police Commission.
That hearing occurred because Town Police Chief Ed Gritzner filed charges against Haase for mishandling evidence and unbecoming conduct.
Gritzner had called for Haase's termination. However, the commission suspended Haase for 90 days without pay and called for a written reprimand.
More to come?
Lauderdale stated it's possible another Town Police Commission may take place in the future.
"Additional disciplinary actions could be requested of the town of Geneva Police Commission, inclusive of the termination of (Haase's) employment," Lauderdale stated. "Holding this type of hearing prior to conclusion of the criminal proceedings could jeopardize the efforts of the District Attorney's Office."
But it appears there are enough police officers to protect and serve in the town, despite Haase being on leave.
"In the meantime, I have been assured by the chief of police that the Police Department has sufficient part-time staff to maintain our current level of protection," Lauderdale stated.