County officers being investigated have been scrutinized before
By Chelsea Schneider Kirk firstname.lastname@example.org May 25, 2011 5:42PM
Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM
Three county police officers suspended this week held important roles in former Lake County Sheriff Roy Dominguez’s administration and aren’t strangers to public scrutiny.
Marco Kuyachich served directly under Dominguez as his police chief. Right under Kuyachich, Joe Kumstar worked as deputy chief. Mike Reilly led staff services and was the department’s fiscal officer.
Lake County Sheriff John Buncich suspended the men, along with three other county police officers Tuesday, after federal officials served subpoenas to the office.
Kuyachich, Kumstar and Reilly came under fire for overtime accrued when Dominguez was in office. State audits show Kuyachich and Kumstar were unrightfully paid overtime, and the sheriff’s department overpaid Kumstar $5,480 in 2008 through 2010. A sheriff’s attorney claimed a staff error was to blame for the overpayment.
Reilly averaged more than 13 hours a week in overtime or compensatory time in 2008, according to county records.
“They worked those hours, and I don’t doubt they didn’t put down for many others that they worked,” Dominguez told the Post-Tribune at the time. “I think that’s a good thing that you have officers who don’t look at the clock and say, I did my eight hours, I’m going home.”
Sources told the Post-Tribune the federal investigation explores the alleged sale of county-owned property, including weapons purchased or confiscated by county police. Patrolmen Edward Kabella, Scott Shelhart and Ronald Slusser also were placed on administrative leave.
Lake County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Rob Arnold said evidence, including weapons, confiscated by county police is held in the department’s property room. The evidence is filed by case, and when the case is no longer active, a request can be made for a judge to issue a court order determining the item’s future.
The state doesn’t have reporting requirements for evidence, and procedures are developed on a local level, said Porter County Sheriff’s Department Detective William Young.
In Porter County, all evidence is handled the same, so Young doesn’t create reports that would list how many weapons or other types of evidence the department has at any given time.
“I log it in the same way,” Young said. “I can’t specifically go in there and say I have 122 guns or anything like that.”
Dominguez declined comment again Wednesday because the investigation is ongoing. Calls into Kuyachich also were not returned as of Wednesday afternoon.
Kuyachich served as Dominguez’s police chief since 2006 taking over after then-chief Gary Martin ended a three-decade stint with the department to run Dominguez’s reelection campaign. After an unsuccessful run for sheriff last year, Kuyachich stayed with the sheriff’s department but was reassigned to the transportation division.
Kumstar, who in the past has helped out at gun auctions, is no longer helping Hobart-based Kraft Auctions pending the outcome of the investigation, the owner said Wednesday.
Post-Tribune reporter Lori Caldwell contributed to this report.