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Board accepts deputy's resignation

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GREENFIELD — Embattled Deputy Scott Roeger has resigned from the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department, but he will be paid for unused vacation and sick time despite a new county policy that states otherwise.

The Sheriff’s Merit Board formally accepted Roeger’s resignation Wednesday, one week after it was turned in.

The resignation is effective Jan. 8, but Sheriff Mike Shepherd said Roeger will be paid an additional $2,236 for three weeks of unused vacation time and sick time for 2014.

That makes for a total of more than $12,000 Roeger will have been paid since he was suspended in early October. While local officials say the resignation marks the end of an expensive, strenuous chapter in the department’s history, it’s better to accept Roeger’s resignation than to go through a termination hearing that could open the county up to an even lengthier and costly legal battle.

“If he resigns, he can’t appeal it or anything – it’s done, it’s over,” said Ronnie Mohr, merit board president.

Mohr said he believes Roeger, who wasn’t at Wednesday’s meeting, waited until the new year to submit a letter of resignation just so he could get his vacation time for 2014.

But a new county policy, which went into effect Jan. 1, states that an employee should receive benefits only if he resigns in good standing and with a two-week notice.

Shepherd, who was on the committee to write the new county policy, said Roeger was never informed of the new policy, so it’s best not to hold him to the new standard.

“It came out after the first of the year, and he had been on suspension that whole time,” Shepherd said. “If we took that away, he could end up suing, taking it to court.”

Roeger’s paid suspension has generated controversy among both members of the sheriff’s department and its merit board.

There are four pending criminal cases against Roeger, who is facing a total of four felony charges and five misdemeanors. None of the cases is directly connected, but the filings all stem from an investigation following Roeger’s first arrest in McCordsville in October.

Roeger was arrested Oct. 6 following a domestic dispute with a woman he had been dating. He’s been on paid suspension ever since, and he later violated a no-contact order with the victim, police said.

As the investigation continued, a special prosecutor began looking into past complaints against Roeger, which led to two additional battery cases. He also has been charged with official misconduct and intimidation in Hamilton County.

Both Mohr and Shepherd acknowledged that the lengthy paid suspension has caused tension in the department and the community.

At issue is a department policy that does not allow an internal investigation to happen simultaneously with a criminal investigation. Because Roeger’s legal case continued developing, the internal investigation came to a halt.

Shepherd vowed Wednesday to change the department policy and bring a draft of the change to next month’s merit board meeting.

“The sooner the better – let’s get this policy worked on,” Mohr responded.

Mohr said after the meeting that even though he’s disappointed that Roeger will be paid for unused vacation time and it’s frustrating the whole process took so much time, it’s better to accept the resignation than to go through a formal termination hearing.

“The legal costs would be substantially higher than what those vacation days would be for the county. It’s limiting exposure,” Mohr said. “I am definitely happy it’s over.”

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