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Former deputy charged with six felonies

Other items retrieved included multiple evidence bags from the Plymouth County Sheriff's Office which were either ripped open or left unsealed

September 24, 2020

PLYMOUTH CO. — A total of 11 charges, including six felonies, were filed into the Iowa District Court for Plymouth County against former Plymouth County Sheriff's Deputy Aaron Leusink, on Thursday, Sept. 23. Leusink was terminated from his position at the sheriff's office on April 23, 2020.

The six felonies include five counts of burglary ranging from 1st to 3rd degree, and one count of felonious misconduct in office. Four misdemeanor counts of theft ranging from 4th to 5th degree and an additional misdemeanor count of unlawful possession of prescription drugs were also brought forth as obtained in the criminal complaint filed by Special Agent Trevor Modlin of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI), Major Crimes Unit (MCU) from Zone 2 based in Sioux City.

The court reviewed the complaint and found probable cause to believe the defendant committed the offenses as charged and a warrant was issued for Leusink's arrest on Wednesday, Sept. 23. Leusink was subsequently brought into custody on Thursday, Sept. 24, and is awaiting an initial appearance.

In the affidavit obtained from the clerk of the district court, DCI was made aware of a series of five unsolved pharmacy burglaries in Plymouth County which began in 2017. The investigation led DCI to link Leusink to these burglaries. The affidavit goes on to state that Leusink used his work computer/laptop to access programs needed to prevent detection and gain the information needed to attempt to stay ahead of the investigation. The complaint adds that Leusink attempted to collect video of the pharmacy burglaries without authority or invitation and did not create any reports in reference to any of the work he had done in regards to the pharmacy burglaries. Two of the charges are related to the pharmacy burglaries which occurred at Thorson Drug in Akron and Lewis Family Drug in Kingsley.

Evidence linking Leusink to the burglaries was located at his residence during the execution of search warrants on April 20, 2020, and May 13, 2020.

The April 20 execution of the search warrant found over 1,600 prescription medication pills in plastic baggies in a locked safe and in other areas of Leusink's bedroom. Other items retrieved included multiple evidence bags from the Plymouth County Sheriff's Office which were either ripped open or left unsealed, evidence from another case Leusink had previously worked which included a thumb drive and iPhone, and $5,432 in cash in another safe. Missing from one evidence bag were 17 Hydrocodone pills from an investigation Leusink previously conducted.

Following this search of Luesink's home, he was placed on administrative leave from his position as a deputy sheriff.

The following day, April 21, Plymouth County Sheriff Mike Van Otterloo requested DCI to come to the sheriff's office to go through Leusink's desk area. DCI located evidence bags ripped open and left unsealed with missing prescription pills.

In another incident in 2017, Leusink was suspended for three days without pay. On Dec. 8, 2017, the sheriff's office and Le Mars Police Department were conducting a joint search warrant. Leusink came to the police department unannounced and did not have a role in the search warrant. All officers left to conduct the operation, with Leusink leaving but not attending the execution of the search warrant. An unnamed Le Mars police officer later returned to the police department to retrieve some supplies and encountered Leusink alone inside the police department exiting the evidence intake room. At the time, this room was also the storage area for the police department's "Safe Meds" return box. Leusink did not have permission to be in the evidence room without a Le Mars Police Department escort.

Other investigations found body camera footage of Leusink burglarizing and stealing items from other residences. On April 17, 2020, DCI agents met with administration of the Plymouth County Sheriff's Office in regards to Leusink. A review of body camera videos for an internal department investigation showed video of Leusink burglarizing a residence at 35008 C-30 and stealing prescription medication. On two other occasions, while executing search warrants, Leusink seized prescription medication bottles. On Dec. 19, 2019, a search at 22843 Hedge Ave, Leusink seized a baggie of pills that were later entered into evidence at the sheriff's office. When completing the return of the search warrant to the court at the Plymouth County Courthouse, Leusink did not list the pills when completing the return. Leusink is seen and heard on the body camera intentionally covering the camera while handling the pill bottles.

On Jan. 7, 2020, Leusink assisted two other deputies with a search warrant at 28847 South Ridge Road. While the warrant included just the basement bedroom area of the house and the vehicles on the property Leusink entered the kitchen counter and began picking up medication bottles that are in a plastic bag. Leusink then left the house but returned and covered his body camera. The affidavit said a small portion of the video remained uncovered and Leusink was seen in the kitchen where sounds familiar with the opening and pouring of pills is heard.

In a statement released by Plymouth County Sheriff Mike Van Otterloo, he stated that the actions of one individual do not define the Sheriff's Office.

"Every day the employees of the Plymouth County Sheriff's Office put forth a tremendous amount of effort to serve with integrity, honesty, and public trust," Van Otterloo said. "It is disheartening to have that effort tarnished by the action of one person, whose misconduct does not define who we are. Former deputy Leusink neglected his oaths in acting in a manner unbecoming of an officer of the law. He will face the consequences of his actions. Meanwhile, the men and women of the Plymouth County Sheriff's Office are dedicated to serve and protect and will continue to do so."

The criminal investigation being conducted by the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation is ongoing.

A $30,000 cash or surety bond has been set for Leusink.

It is noted that a criminal charge is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

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