Gag on it

Matt Westerhold
Mar 31, 2014


Huron County Sheriff Dane Howard's chief deputy plays the Ohio Revised Code -- the compilation of state laws they're sworn to uphold -- fast and loose.

It's been that way since Howard was elected in 2012.

Sheriff's Capt. Ted Patrick showed that again clearly last week after a raid at a triplex home on Benedict Avenue.

Patrick also showed he doesn't seem to understand the difference between a "rumor" and a complaint.

Here's how a local newspaper reported it Friday:

"Rumors about authorities using a warrant at the wrong Norwalk residence are untrue, a sheriff's spokesman said Thursday.

"'It's highly inaccurate. It's not factual,' Huron County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Ted Patrick told the Reflector.

"'We stand behind what we did. I stand behind what our men and women did," he added."

But it wasn't a "rumor" Capt. Patrick referred to; it was a complaint he hoped to ignore.

"As soon as I stood up, they bum-rushed the door and threw me on the ground at gunpoint," John Collins, 26, who lives in one of the three units at 114 Benedict Ave. in Norwalk, told the Register.

Collins had a complaint and Patrick knew that full-well.

The deputies busted in his home as he watched TV, cuffed him and forced him to the floor face down, Collins said. They left him there for 20 minutes ignoring his admonitions they had the wrong address.

Collins said he repeatedly told the deputies they had the wrong house. But they kept saying, 'This is a drug house,' and 'You shouldn't be in a drug house then.'"

"They searched my whole house, pulled stuff out my closet," he said.

The explanation Chief Deputy Patrick provided the Register when a reporter inquired about the raid just doesn't add up.

"We finished a search warrant at 114-1/2 Benedict Ave," he said Thursday. "Our next move then was to check on an individual who may have a warrant in close proximity."

Patrick said deputies "became aware of warrants for an individual in close proximity, which was next door."

He refused to say how deputies "became aware" of the arrest warrant for that individual in the unit next door to Collins' home, a warrant on file with the sheriff's office since 2012.

It must have been just a coincidentally convenient tip.

Plan B

And instead of addressing Collins' complaint in real time, Patrick went to Plan B: Operation Super-secret secret gag order secret.

* Tell a friendly reporter nothing really happened.

* Make sure there is no documentation available about anything of substance.

* As Sheriff's Howard's spokesman, make yourself as unavailable and be unfriendly as possible to any reporter who has questions about the inconsistent story you're trying to make sure the public hears.

* Make sure the judge is aware the super-secret gag order needs to be in place and the search warrant your team executed needs to be hidden for as long as possible.

After arresting two people in the unit next to Collins' home, deputies finally removed the handcuffs from his wrists and let him get up off the floor.

"Then they just left like it was nothing," Collins said.

Americans -- no matter what their past might be -- have a right to watch TV in their own homes without fear police are going to bust in, hogtie you and leave you face down on the floor for 20 minutes ignoring your concern about their actions.

Most law enforcement officers know that.

Huron County Sheriff Dane Howard needs to learn it, and he needs to teach his deputies about it and about appropriate behavior.

"It was inhumane. I'm to the point where I'm scared and don't want to be (in my home) by myself," Collins said.

Can't blame you.



Boss Hogg in the flesh. No one in a gated community would ever have to endure this, no matter what they did.
This sort of thing happens more often than is reported.
Dude is pretty lucky they didn't plant evidence.


The Register is gonna have egg all over its face when they find out that Collins in fact has had the person they were looking for living with him. This guy may not currently be using Heroin but you can bet he isn't completely sober. By the way, did you get a copy of the warrant? I'm assuming they had to have had enough evidence that the person in question was staying there in order to get a judge to sign it. I'm no fan of Dane Howard but it looks as though the Register is making a story out of this by only looking at one side of the story; that of a junkie who recently did time in Lorain Correctional Institution. Seems to me he doesn't really have that much credibility.

Matt Westerhold

Thanks for your concern, KnuckleDragger, but it should be OK. The Register's coverage simply detailed the complaint from Mr. Collins, and the non-response from the HCSO. There was only one side of the story to report since the HCSO was unable to provide much information and the gag order suppressing the search warrant was covered under the gag order itself.


The EGG should be on the COURT and SHERIFF, not the Register! Both had the opportunity to provide details or at least put a partial gag on the order, allowing the address to be revealed.

BTW, Matt, one problem with you article. You stated:

"Huron County Sheriff Dane Howard needs to learn it, and he needs to teach his deputies about it and about appropriate behavior."

TOO LATE, if that warrant had a different address on it then they COMMITTED A CRIME, no going back to school to learn the Constitution and Bill of Rights! Its time to serve HARD TIME for Breaking and entry, KIDNAPPING, burglary, and other offenses. And because they should KNOW the law the sentence should be double!

I HATE arrogant and unlawful cops.
Oh, and maybe the Judge should be ran out of town as well if he's covering something up.

Little Giant

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

mimi's word

Mr. Westerhold do you have a better plan on how to stop or get a hold on the heroin problem in Huron County? I am sorry he was watching tv but he was a known drug addict and dealer and he only been clean for a few months? So is he the leader of up-standing and honest ex-criminals support group? I am so sick and tires of people complaining that the police do nothing about the drug problem in the county and then when they do it seems like it wasn't what anyone wanted either. They are constantly in a damned if you do damned if you don't situation. I believe that Mr. Collins is not telling the entire truth and that if he was as clean as he has tried to present himself why did one article say evidence was found and confiscated? I feel criminals have taken our constitutional rights and wiped their rear ends with it and we the law abiding citizens have to take it on the chin to better things. I am sorry Mr. Collins but there is no forgiveness when you have broken the law. It will follow you forever. You could do change your life all you want, but it will still be there in the back of people’s minds. Take for example the gentleman who writes blog articles for your paper. No matter what he writes about his past is ALWAYS borught up.


So, you're saying since he was arrested in the past, he deserves this? Really? I'm all for police arresting drug dealers and users and confiscating drugs...but neither one was done here, I'm just saying it looks really suspic

mimi's word

I am saying when you have have chosen a path in life you take all that comes with it. And he has not been clean enough in my opinion to be taken at his word. I have been clean for 12 years and the things in my past haunt me ever single day. And was he on any type of probation or parole that his house can be searched at any time? most releases have that condition.


So using your explanation, the Police would be justified in breaking down your door because of what you did in your past. All I am saying, is this whole thing stinks of cover up. Maybe they did have the right house, but theres just too many questions that are not going to be answered until the police are "ready" to explain them

mimi's word

If you have commited a crime and are on any type of probation or parole you are able to be searched (home or person) at any time, day or night. It is a set condition. I don't know if these are in place or not. All i know is if you want to live a life of crime then you have to accept the consequences. This was not some normal citizen who was randomly searched.

Peninsula Pundit

Forget it, John.
Mimi's was asleep in American Civics class.
Has no idea of what she's talking about or doesn't want to.


She certainly doesn't understand the Bill of Rights but is more aligned with a Socialist or Fascist society.

The problem is the legislators and courts. They should be executing the dealers and if your a user its 3 times your executed or at least life in a 5x8 cell with nothing in it. THATS how you deal with drugs, not breaking Civil rights in anyones home.

mimi's word

I am not aligned with anything. I am just pointing out that no one but Mr. Collins put him self in with the life of a criminal so put up with all that comes with it. I have not read every single article on this case but I get tired of people who live criminal life styles complaining when their rights are not being protected. They did not care anything about the law while they were breaking it. I also was involved in that life and when I got in trouble I was told that my probation officer or the police could show up at my home at any time and I had to allow them in to search me or my home to see if I was sticking to the rules. If that was illegal so be it. It was the rules I followed because it only took me ONE time to get in trouble and I was done with that life. I do understand the bill of rights.


There is NO LAW that says if your on probation the cops can just randomly kick in your door. I see where your going with this, I just dont think you see where we are going with this.....if it was legit and maybe it was, what is with all the secrecy now?? No one has answered one question, in fact they have dodged everyone...

Peninsula Pundit

NO, you may be ignorant of what you are aligning yourself with by manner of your posts, but the even the indifferent reader can determine your stance on this issue. Neither do you understand our constitutional guarantees nor do you ascribe to the idea of 'paying your debt to society' and moving on.
This is very clear from the tenor of your posts.
Do you think everyone is like you, unable to comprehend someone's position on the issues by the words they post?
Many of us are not.

Peninsula Pundit

To be clear, I direct this reply to Mimi.

Peninsula Pundit

OK, Mimi, let me try a different tack:
If you've done nothing wrong, you should have nothing to hide, right?
So why are the police's actions being hidden?
As a public authority in a country with a free press held as its' highest standard, why are the police not responding to a request for information on its'actions.
It is very hollow to keep harping on the illegal actions of a single citizen while disregarding the illegal actions of a whole police department.


I have to agree with Matt, if there was nothing wrong with what the deputies did, then why the sudden gag order? Why the lack of an explanation from the HCSO? If you have enough "evidence" to have a "no knock" warrant signed, why only search the home for 20 minutes??? You can't search one room in 20 minutes, let alone an apartment...then you don't find anything and arrest the guy next door on a drug warrant??? This is why they are telling only one side, because right now that's all there is


Simple logic dictates that if one has nothing to hide, hide nothing. The HCSO was wrong! They should admit it and stop trying to cover their behinds. The truth never changes and lies never go away until the truth is told!


I completely understand what your saying and MAYBE they did have the right house, but why all the secrecy?? They should have instantly made the warrant public and so they could put any question to rest.

JMOP's picture

Gag order on top of gag order. The HCSO is buying their time, for one reason or another. How many times has this dept. put a double gag order on a case, and what is the reasoning?


I have heard alot from different states where cops do go to wrong addresses. They knew it was wrong address they thought they might catch him doing something wrong. He might have been a dealer but he might not now.


Im sure they are not just looking at this guy, they are probably looiking at multiple people. If they tell the register information about this search warrant it could jeopardize other cases. Sometimes im sure it is better not to tell a NEWSPAPER about what the police are doing....this could ruin the investigation......just like when the military was attacking in the first gulf war, the media was actually waiting on the front line before the marines actually landed.....not good for a mission!!!


I would assume that there is a gag order bc they did not catch the guy they really wanted. If you read the norwalk reflector they are looking for another guy. So they wont release information bc the guy is still "at large" so to speak. But i dont feel bad for the guy as others stated. He got caught before now you live with the consequences

Peninsula Pundit

By your line of 'reasoning', that's saying if you get a ticket for speeding, every time you pass a cop, he's within his rights to pull you over because you 'got caught before and now live with the consequences.'


Imagine what goes on everyday in this area concerning the Courts and Law 'enforcement' that ISN'T discovered, reviewed or questioned by the press! THANK GOD FOR A FREE PRESS, I would rather have the entire police force under scrutiny than one person's right being abused. The cops can leave to another job if they don't like it, citizens however can't leave their homes! THEY WORK FOR US, they TOOK AN OATH, and if they broke into this home they are in my opinion traitors to a free society.


@mimi, Mr. Collins criminal past has nothing whatsoever to do with what happen, Dane Howard admitted himself that he and his staff have not been complying to the laws of the state of Ohio, and that he would instruct his staff to begin complying. And I quote"Earlier this month, Sheriff Dane Howard agreed to have his command staff begin complying with state law." Now this may surprise you, But we are a republic, a republic is a representative form of government that is ruled according to a charter, or Constitution. With that said. you will need to understand we have certain rights under our constitution,that are not based on whether we have a criminal back ground or not. I want to ask you do you know the 4th amendment to our Constitution? Let me post that for you.........The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.I want to know was Mr.Collins name on the search warrant? Now I agree with you about something needs to be done about the heroin problem in Huron country/surrounding counties.Have you not been reading how many times these drug dealers get their hand slap and in a few hours back out on the streets to peddle their dope before sundown. the cops don't make the laws they are suppose to enforce the laws,it is the duty of the courts to follow the laws and sentences the law breakers. but how many times do we read"this person is not eligible for prison time".You want something done,then the state laws need to be changed so the courts hands are not tied on what they can do. My thoughts are each time someone OD's and dies the person dealing them drugs should be prosecuted for murder.Now to one of your quote Mimi..... "I am sorry Mr. Collins but there is no forgiveness when you have broken the law. It will follow you forever." Now Mimi does this apply to Dane Howard and his staff as well, to whom he admitted he was breaking a state law by not complying ? Now what your saying is no criminal can be a victim, and I don't understand your logic in this.

mimi's word

Mr. Collins was arrested, charged, and served time in jail. It is for that instance, I am saying if you would have put the entire quote up there that will follow him forever that people will never see past his former crimes. I know I have been there. Until Mr. Howard or any officers are actually charged, it is only suspicion, innuendo and personal opinion on what crimes the department has committed. If crimes were committed by the department, yes they should be in trouble. However, when you live a life of crime you will recieve no sympathy from me for what you continue to put yourself into.


Mimi Mr. Collins is not living a life of crime, He is an addict apparently trying to clean him self up.Give the man credit for that. And that is not even the point to what happen........the point is were the young mans constitutional rights disregarded. And was this an improper search and seizure. And what is the reason why the authorities put a gag order on the search warrant, and a gag order on the gag order,because they knew they violate this mans constitutional rights?. I may not like the way the press handles things today, but at this point in time I'm happy to say we still have a free press,and Mr.Westerhold has ever right to what he requested. And as far as Mr Howard goes he is the one saying that he and his staff were not complying to Ohio state law, so it is not innuendo and personal opinion on what crimes the department has committed on my part. If you are not complying with a law you are breaking a law.... Now I will give my opinion...., to be a law man/woman you have no excuse for not complying with a law. We as citizens are told ignorance is no excuse for not obeying a law. Try going into a court and telling a Judge I didn't know that was illegal, and he will tell you what I just said ignorance is no excuse.

Peninsula Pundit

'Until Mr. Howard or any officers are actually charged, it is only suspicion, innuendo and personal opinion on what crimes the department has committed.'
If you murder someone, Mimi, they are DEAD long before you are charged.
But by our constitutional guarantees and again contrary to your post, they are not guilty until a court of law finds them guilty, not just merely that they are charged.
This once again proves my point about you not being aware of the bill of rights and our constitutional freedoms.


I don't care whether Collins is innocent or guilty. What I DO care about is that, no matter his past, he remains entitled to due process. His past (or present) crimes offer no excuses for law enforcement to commit a crime themselves, nor should they.

If the warrant was legit, let's see it. They're public record, so make it public. Unless, of course, as some have suggested here there really IS something for the Sheriff to hide...!


It's one thing to let all the armchair cops and lawyers loose on this, but it's another thing to question the integrity of Ted Patrick.
He is a very well respected and knowledgeable person.


Everyone must be questioned for their integrity, especiaaly the ones who are the most trusted, for they have a wide open door to be dishonest.

Jeff Strongman

After seeing the headline "Gag on it," by Matt Westerhold, I was relieved to find out it was just another anti-law enforcement opinion piece.


Actually, after seeing that headline, it reminded me of an argument I was once in, with a liar.

I was 99% sure he was not telling me the truth. I asked him to show me the paper work to prove it. He said "I'll get you that paperwork and I hope you CHOKE ON IT when you see I'm right!"

When I finally got the paperwork, I was right he was a LIAR!

Peninsula Pundit

He more likely than not is a local policeman.
And he shaves his head, has tattoos and wears his pant legs inside his jackboots.
You're above the law, Jeff.
Just be brave as you pretend and post your real name.
To save you the time of a reply, no, I'm not going to post mine.
You'd have me at a disadvantage.


Does he write anything else?

Ralph J.

Matt, keep up the heat on them. Open up all of those secrets.


I guess your right HolySee. I remember when Matt W. stated that a former Perkins Police Chief was the finest he ever saw. I had a whole story written on this, but I deleted it. I've been getting booted lately was questioning integrities myself. Some can dish it out, but cannot take it.


This some know. Prior to this Howard & his friends played games with the good L.E. officers in the department. Not all cops are *****. Many do SERVE. Glad no 1 hurt. Can hardly wait for election time!


Stay out of Hazzard!