From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 8, Number 23 - August 28, 2008
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Complaint Calls For Investigation, Removal Of Sheriff

by Tiffany Turner

Several current and former Sublette County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) employees have filed complaints with the County Commission against Sheriff Wayne “Bardy” Bardin. One complaint requests an unbiased investigation of the accusations brought forth as well as Sheriff Bardin’s termination.

That complaint, filed with the county clerk Aug. 25, alleges Bardin made “deliberate, lewd verbal comments of a sexual nature” to female employees, fired staff illegally and violated SCSO rules of conduct.

That complaint followed one made to the Sublette County Commission by a former deputy on Aug. 24.

Former SCSO deputy Daniel Jensen filed a notarized complaint with the Sublette County commissioners Aug. 24 stating in December 2005 he was called to residence on Meadowlark Lane that he knew to be Bardin’s. Upon arrival, the statement said, he was informed there was a vehicle accident and Bardin had been drinking.

“Sheriff Bardin appeared to be very nervous, scared and restless,” Jensen said. “Sheriff Bardin admitted to me he had ingested three shots of an alcoholic beverage.”

“In my opinion, using my training and experience, Sheriff Bardin was intoxicated,” Jensen added.

According to Jensen’s letter, Deputy Mike Peterson, who had called Jensen to the scene, gave Bardin a ride to town while Jensen called a tow truck.

“I believe that Sheriff Bardin was in violation of DUI, which violates WSS 31-5-233,” Jensen said. “At the time, Sheriff Bardin and Peterson were role models to me. Sheriff Bardin and Peterson had more experience in law enforcement.”

“At the time, I felt that I was doing the right thing by not taking law enforcement action against Sheriff Bardin,” Jensen added. “Since the incident, I regret not requesting another law enforcement agency to investigate this incident...Since the incident, my morale and integrity as a Sublette County Sheriff’s Deputy declined. I feel quality leadership is a responsibility for any elected position.”

The next day, SCSO Detective James Schmidt filed accusations of additional incidents of Bardin’s “malfeasance” in office, stating statutes in which county officers not liable for impeachment are to be dismissed by the board of County Commissioners should proof be shown the officer “has been guilty of any palpable omission of duty, has been guilty of willful or corrupt oppression or partiality in the discharge of his official duties, has demanded or received any pay for the performance of the duties of his office to which he is not entitled or for any other act which by statute is in violation of his official oath and bond.” (WSS: 18-3-907a)

“I submit that Sheriff Wayne Bardin has repeatedly demonstrated a wanton and willful disregard in the discharge of his duties as the Sheriff of Sublette County and the Oath of Office, by violating Wyoming State Statutes, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Sublette County Sexual Harassment Policy, Sublette County Sheriff’s Office Policies and Procedures and the Code of Ethics for Law Enforcement,” Schmidt said in his letter to the commissioners requesting Bardin’s removal from office.

Schmidt alleges the following as incidents of violation:

1. Schmidt states the incident of December 2005 was investigated and documented by Jensen and the report was altered “to isolate Sheriff Bardin from arrest or prosecution of the charge.”

2. Schmidt also claims Bardin made “deliberate, lewd verbal comments of a sexual nature” to Deputy Lisa Randol that were unwelcome, unasked for or rebuked by another employee.”

3. According to Schmidt, Bardin made “deliberate, lewd verbal comments of a sexual nature” to three other female SCSO employees.

4. Schmidt alleges Bardin violated a Wyoming state statute in discharging Undersheriff James Whinnery on Aug. 21, 2008, and denying him “opportunity for a hearing and appeal in accordance with the Wyoming Administrative Procedures Act.”

5. Schmidt alleges Bardin violated a Wyoming state statute in discharging Lt. Hayes Randol on Aug. 21, 2008, and denying him “opportunity for a hearing and appeal in accordance with the Wyoming Administrative Procedures Act.”

6. Schmidt lists Bardin’s section violations to the Sheriff’s Department Rules and Regulations as violating the General Rules of Conduct Section 1-2 IV B10 False Statements, 1-2 IV K Use of Alcohol, section 1-20 IV D Procedure – General, Alcohol Dependence and section 1-3 III E Direction, obedience to orers.

7. Schmidt also claims Bardin violated the Law Enforcement Code of Ethics. “Officers must keep their private lives unsullied and recognize the badge as a symbol of public faith and trust,” Schmidt said. “I.E. (falsification of official reports and sexual harassment of citizens, coworkers or subordinates, excessive use of alcoholic beverages).”

“There are additional accusation that are in direct violation or conflict of Wyoming State Statute and SCSO Policies and Procedure that have been unconfirmed as of this writing,” Schmidt added.

He requests an investigation into Bardin’s actions be undertaken as soon as possible. Schmidt also requested that the state Division of Criminal Investigation investigate the allegations, rather than the Sublette County Attorney’s Office.

He cited a direct conflict of interest in the fact that Deputy County Attorney Meredith Peterson is the wife of newly appointed Undersheriff Mike Peterson, documents drafted for the termination of Randol and Whinnery were drafted by the County Attorney’s Office and the County Attorney’s Office is representing Bardin in these employee matter.

“For your consideration, please refer this investigation to the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation for their unbiased investigation,” Schmidt added.

A letter of support for Schmidt’s complaint was also addressed to the county commissioners.

“This letter is in support of the accusations drafted by Detective James Schmidt as being true and direct reflection of events that have occurred in the SCSO by Sheriff Wayne Bardin,” the letter states. “We request the Commissioners take immediate action in requesting an investigation by the Division of Criminal Investigation as requested.”

Jeannie Whinnery, Hayes Randol, Lisa Randol, KC Lehr, Toby Terrell, Brian Sparks, James Whinnery, Jr., and Nathan Gortemaker signed the letter of support.

Sheriff Bardin had no comment at this time.

“I have been advised not to comment,” he said Wednesday.

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