Fayette Co. DARE Officer Resigns Amid Questions About Funds, Missing Property
Fayette County, OH
COLUMBUS, Ohio - A DARE officer and deputy in Fayette County has resigned after being interviewed over a fund discrepancy and missing items from a property room.
Deputy Dennis Cotner cited "personal reasons" when he resigned last week. He had been put on administrative leave on March 22.
For at least two decades, Cotner served the Fayette County Sheriff's Office without any major issues, according to a search of his personnel file.
Cotner was questioned about a discrepancy in funds for an upcoming DARE event and missing jewelry from the sheriff's Office property room.
Fayette County Sheriff Vernon Stanforth says he was tipped off that Cotner had improperly destroyed property room evidence, which turned out to be a bracelet and watch from a home invasion investigation in 2012.
“He kept saying the property was destroyed I couldn't find the owner,” Stanforth said. “I broke it up. That's not how we destroy property.”
According to the sheriff, Cotner claimed he destroyed the jewelry after not being able to find the owners.
“Extremely disappointed. Extreme disappointment. That he knew what the policy was. We entrusted him with the program with other responsibilities of the property room,” Vernon Stanforth said.
Cotner was also interviewed by authorities over registration money for a DARE fishing event. Cotner has since deposited the $270 in registration fees.
“He acknowledged he shouldn't have taken the money home,” Stanforth said.
Since then the Sheriff says the department has installed a new software program in the property room that tracks every piece of evidence that goes in and out of the room. Before, it was done by hand.
The Fayette County Prosecutors Office will now continue the investigation to determine if charges will be filed.
Cotner had been with the office since 1994.
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