Sheriff skips details on botched raid

Howard goes on offensive against Norwalk police with misinformation
Courtney Astolfi
May 4, 2014

Huron County Sheriff Dane Howard provided what appears to be inaccurate information last week to bolster his defense of deputies involved in a botched raid on Benedict Avenue on March 25. 

Howard released a series of text messages exchanged between his detective and a Norwalk police officer regarding the flawed search warrant used in the raid. 

But he left out four specific text messages that appear to show statements he’s made about the raid are not accurate. 

The sheriff appears also to have incorrectly stated that no conversation occurred between his deputy and the Norwalk officer in the days leading up to the raid. 

Phone records obtained by the Register show it apparently did occur. 

On Thursday, Howard agreed to address the inaccuracies. But he later back-pedaled and refused to comment altogether.

The four crucial text messages inexplicably missing from the series of texts Howard released contain information that shows sheriff’s Detective Kayla Zander told Norwalk police Detective Jim Fulton a woman named Patricia Papp lived at 114½ Benedict Ave. Fulton warned Zander, however, that neither Papp nor Papp’s son, Rob Hendricks — the intended target of the search warrant — lived at the address.

Deputies raided the home despite the warnings. 

John Collins was sitting in his living room when they stormed his door. He told deputies they had the wrong man and the wrong home, but they forced him to the ground at gunpoint, handcuffed him and made him watch as they ransacked his personal property. In the process, the deputies broke sentimental and pricey items that belonged to Collins. 

Fulton already had provided the Register copies of a pivotal text exchange in which Zander unknowingly admitted deputies had faulty information.

Howard’s failure to release the entire text exchange between Fulton and Zander appears to be part of a continuing stream of misinformation coming from the sheriff. 

The Norwalk Police Department has complained that deputies are not properly trained, are disrespectful to residents and fellow law enforcement agencies and are overzealous in their actions. 

Police Chief David Light does not want the sheriff operating in the city until deputies are better trained and learn the proper procedures law enforcement agencies are required to follow.  

The four text messages Howard withheld show that Howard’s contention the deputies were never informed they had the wrong home prior to the raid is not accurate. According to the Norwalk police text records, Fulton asked Zander if she pinned down exactly who lived at the address just an hour or two before the search warrant was executed.

Her reply? “Ur girl.”

Zander was referring to a conversation she and Fulton had the previous day about Patricia Papp, according to internal Norwalk police documents obtained through a public records request.

Howard told the Norwalk Reflector this week that no such conversation ever occurred. 

But Fulton’s phone records appear to clearly show it did. 

At 12 p.m. on the dot, March 24, Fulton’s Sprint bill shows a six-minute incoming call from Zander’s number.

During that conversation, Fulton said he told Zander that Hendricks lived on Gallup Avenue and occasionally Bouscay Avenue — and as far as he knew, Hendricks never lived on Benedict Avenue.

Deputies ignored the warnings and proceeded with executing the flawed search warrant anyway.

During the month since the botched raid at 114½ Benedict Ave., Sheriff Howard and Chief Deputy Ted Patrick have provided the public a slew of what appears to be inaccurate information.

The Register sent Howard a list, asking him to clarify, correct, or simply offer comment on the apparently inaccurate and inconsistent information he and Patrick have provided. Here is that list:

•Fulton’s copies of the text exchange include four text messages that show deputies were informed they had the wrong address. The text messages Howard provided did not include those four specific texts that refute his statements.

•Howard told the Reflector no phone call occurred between Zander and Fulton. Fulton has phone records that show the phone call did occur despite Howard’s statement to the contrary.

•Patrick told the Register deputies learned Papp and her other son, Thomas Papp, had outstanding warrants while they searched Collins’ home. The record shows Fulton informed Zander about the warrants more than 24 hours in advance, contrary to statements by Howard and Patrick.

•Patrick told the Register he was “unaware” Patricia Papp was Rob Hendricks’ mother. The record shows Zander told Fulton of that relationship March 24.

•Howard told the Reflector Norwalk police were involved with the warrant’s execution. Fulton at first offered assistance from Norwalk police, but officers got caught up in their own investigation and did not assist deputies, Fulton said.

•Howard said the warrant was executed properly. The records shows there are multiple inconsistencies in the warrant affidavit, however, which was approved by Huron County juvenile court Judge Timothy Cardwell. Informants and anonymous tipsters all told deputies Hendricks sold pills out of Papp’s home, not the 114½ address where Collins lives. The search warrant affidavit does not mention Collins, despite statements from Howard and Patrick that it was the right address.

Howard initially said he’d address the concerns about inaccurate information being provided by the sheriff’s office, saying some of the points were “misinformation.” Just a few minutes later, however, he withdrew that offer and declined to comment.

Comments

lugnut2511

Just remember when election time comes up. Either on the commissioners side or his side.

GoBigLex2001

Sheriff Howard needs to go for this. Vote him out. Maybe the AG's office needs to look in to this as well.

signersdecendant

I agree and have a question for a Sandusky Register reporter, have they contacted Holmes County investigator, to see what information was spoon fed him by HCSO. What text and information was with held from him to do the investigation that was reported in NR paper. How can his investigation be complete when he has not talked to John Collins, or the person who rents the apartment from the land owner?
So many questions, so many cover ups! Time for the Truth and Howard and Patrick to step down from the positions of authority.

newsroom

An outside investigator has cleared Sheriff Howard of any wrongdoing. Not sure why the Register didn't report it, but here's the link … http://www.norwalkreflector.com/...

rottnrog

Detective Sgt. Jim Henry, from the Holmes County Sheriff's Office, conducted the investigation.

HMMM Why is the name Henry familiar?

rickyr44

Newsroom, probably because it was not Holmes County's jurisdiction. It is a civil rights matter, so it needs to be investigated by either the FBI or Attorney General.

Stop It

Imma gonna have my buddy check my stuff out and make sure it's all up to snuff.....ok?

JohnDorian12

Aren't cops who are dishonest supposed to be fired?? Oh wait, that is a case by case basis....sorry forgot

GoBigLex2001

He is an ELECTED official so the only way to fire him is a recall. He is not your ordinary appointed law enforcement officer.

JohnDorian12

Got it, so he's EXPECTED to lie, is what you're saying, typical hypocritical BS...and you buy right into it don't you

Peninsula Pundit

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Personal attacks (including: name calling, presumption of guilt or guilt by association, insensitivity, or picking fights).

Peninsula Pundit

Well, then, let me try again:
The visage of the person pictured is reminiscent of a certain cartoon character whose girlfriend was named 'Petunia.'
I would suggest, for the health of this person, that they begin an exercise regimen before the widely-known effects of obesity take their toll and he should unfortunately pass away prematurely.
Perhaps the voters should recall him forthwith, so he may embark on a life-saving course of action that will prolong his life for himself and his loved ones.
His reticence to divulge facts already widely known in the public forum would appear to indicate purposeful deceptiveness. This is not the hallmark of proper police decorum and serves to further sully what little good name the members of the law-enforcement community at large have left.
If the primary law enforcement representative of the county cannot bring himself to address his failings as an officer, a recall by the people would seem to be in good order.
Sheriff Bratton was canned over a couple of tickets to Cedar Point and no one can touch this guy?
Amazing.

Babo

Bratton wasn't "canned" over a couple of Cedar Point tickets. He resigned (collected his pension) and went to work for Genoa as Chief of Police while under investigation by The Auditor of State for stealing in excess of $10,000 from the Furtherance of Justice account.

Upon the Auditor of State issuing his report and findings of the theft, Ottawa County prosecutor Mark Mulligan stated he had no problem with the theft of public funds and would not prosecute. Bratton kept his job as Chief of Police in Genoa, Ohio until the FBI, and the US Attorney charged him with theft in office under federal law by Bill of Information (indicating Bratton is cooperating) to which Bratton pled guilty in January 2014. He will be sentenced later this month in federal court in Toledo.

Bratton like Howard is morbidly obese. It has always struck me as odd that law enforcement officers in Ohio do not seem to have minimum physical standards to keep their jobs in order to ensure their own safety and the safety of others.

Bratton and Howard are just a couple of examples of the lack of accountability among Sheriffs in Ohio and prove it may be time that the State move to some other more professional and less political system of county law enforcement. I can't think of another elected position in which about 10% of the office holders in the last decade have been indicted for criminal offenses or serious questions raised about their ethics and integrity.

Finally, the Governor pursuant to RC 3.07 and 3.08 can remove Howard from office for official misconduct.

Good 2 B Me

Corruption in Law Enforcement? No way!! (Sarcasm)

Stop It

Illegal search and seizure. 4TH Amendment.

Kottage Kat

If he runs unopposed, we are stuck with him.
Can only hope someone runs against him.
PLEASE

Mr. Pink

This is why Cuyahoga County changed their form of county government. The Sheriff should not be an elected position. Whomever gets elected to that position usually is beholden to either a party or individuals. There seems to be a lot of cronyism with appointments to positions. Remember there is no competitive testing and it is very easy to just hire someone that is connected. Cuyahoga County was very corrupt, including the Sheriff. Now it is an appointed position. In other words "at will". If this was in place in all counties, Howard would most likely be let go.

Babo

You raise great points but there still is the potential for a sheriff appointed by the county executive to cover up for his boss. That's what allegedly is happening now in Cuyahoga County as County Executive Fitzgerald who appointed the current sheriff is under fire by the Plain Dealer for not disclosing his key card and parking records to prove he's actually working and not campaigning on public time. The Sheriff is backing Fitzgerald citing security threats. But that's never been an issue with any other official who are at greater risks of threats such as judges.

Gardenman

Quite honestly as I look at this Huron County Sheriff Howard who clearly is not doing the job and then you look next door at Sandusky County and you see again another sheriff who can't do the job. My thought immediately is how fortunate we are to have Paul Sigsworth as our county sheriff. Normally we here in the City of Sandusky or Erie County seem to come up with the short end of the stick vs communities next door. You know we get the person who can't do the job but not in our sheriff. Centainly Paul is a lawman of integrity, honesty and professionalism. How lucky we are that we have a person like that as our sheriff. Sure glad neither of these guys next door have rubbed off on our Erie County Sheriff.

JMOP

AMEN!

richrs

How true this is.

Julie R.

How about the former Erie County Sheriff Terry Lyons? Do you think he was a lawman of integrity, honesty and professionalism?

As for Sigsworth, I'm sure when they first take office they all have integrity. The big question is --- will it continue?

Babo

Good point about Lyons. He may have been worse than Howard, Overmyer and Bratton together.

Julie R.

"Sure glad neither of these guys next door have rubbed off on our Erie County sheriff."

I don't think you have to worry about "the guys next door" rubbing off on the new Erie County sheriff. On the other hand, you might have to worry about the prosecutor and judges.

TuffNutts2011

Paul Sigsworth has not done any narcotics search warrants. To call that a success is a joke. I would not want a sheriff who refuses to act at all. Also I think its unanimous that its time for dane to step down. They need someone from outside to come in and clean the place up. That means get rid of several of Danes cronies too as they are just as guilty as he is.

Nemesis

Maybe he's just more concerned with REAL crimes that have unwilling victims, rather than enforcing unconstitutional laws about what people can put in their own bodies.

KURTje

Gardenman you are right. Sigsworth is quality L.E. However there are quality L.E. in Huron County. Give this time...prior to this display, things have bee "building up." (years) Howard will not be re-elected.

Gardenman

kURTje yes you are correct in many good LE in Huron County and I should have said that too. Just because you have one bad apple in the bushel does not mean all of them are bad. I am confident there are excellent law enforcement in Huron County and Sandusky County. That has certainly been shown by the Norwalk Police Chief and his personnel who have said it truthfully. Lets hope Howard is out soon and some of these outstanding LE do infact desire to step up to the job of sheriff and clean up the mess and bring integrity back to the position.

Stop It

That picture of Sheriff Howard looks like he slept in that uniform for a few days.

worddrow811

I have said for decades, that there should not be any fat, law enforcement officers who couldn't chase down a rabbit if they had to do so. If they have no control over their eating habits, how does one control others?