FULL STORY An apparent clerical error led Huron County Sheriff’s deputies to mistakenly arrest a former BGSU Firelands professor and haul him off to jail.
A sheriff’s dispatcher recorded a court summons as an arrest warrant, which prompted the two deputies on Sunday afternoon to arrest Patrick Saunders, 62, at his Laylin Road home in Norwalk, Huron County Sheriff Dane Howard said.
“We’re looking at an internal investigation,” Howard said. “There will likely be some disciplinary action.”
The dispatcher was a fill-in for another dispatcher who was on vacation, Howard said, adding that a preliminary review indicates the two deputies did nothing wrong, since they were acting on instructions.
John Allton, Saunders’ attorney, said Howard called him after the arrest and offered his apologies.
“I was told the mistake was due to a clerical error internal to the sheriff’s department,” Allton said.
A Huron County grand jury last week secretly indicted Saunders on charges of carrying a concealed weapon and improper handling of a firearm. The charges stem from an October incident where a Huron County deputy found a handgun in a saddlebag on Saunders’ motorcycle.
When the indictment paperwork went from court to the sheriff’s office, no one noted that Saunders was to receive a summons to appear in court, rather than being arrested.
The two deputies showed up at Saunders’ house and — according to Allton — barged into his home, past his wife, arrested him and hauled him off to the Huron County jail.
For his part, Saunders “calmly” went through the booking process, Allton said.
“It ruined Pat’s day and it ruined my day,” Allton said. “I was furious. I went out for a walk and came back even more furious. When something happens, I chew on it until I figure it out.
“I was really chewing on that one,” Allton said. “I just didn’t understand it.”
Allton said Saunders kept cool during the arrest.
“He just let them do their thing,” Allton said. “With all the media coverage, people think (Saunders) is the devil. He’s not. He’s just a character.”
Allton said he started making some phone calls Sunday after the arrest, but Saunders soon walked through his front door.
“I thought I was seeing a ghost,” Allton said. “I said ‘How did you get out?’”
Saunders told Allton he asked to see the arrest warrant when he arrived at jail. The paperwork didn’t authorize his arrest — rather, it was a summons to appear in court.
Jail employees quickly saw the mistake and released Saunders, Allton said.
The deputies who arrested Saunders never actually received paperwork — they were verbally ordered to make the arrest, he said.
Howard said he’s still reviewing the incident, but the mistake appears to be the dispatcher’s.
The Sandusky County prosecutor’s office has been assigned special prosecutor in the Huron County case.
Saunders had two run-ins with deputies last month. Erie County deputies charged him with carrying a concealed weapon and aggravated menacing after he allegedly used a knife to threaten a co-worker at BGSU Firelands.
On Oct. 22 he pleaded no contest in the Erie County case and received a reduced charge of inducing panic. He was sentenced to a 180-day jail term, but it was suspended on condition he abide by the law for two years.