GREENVILLE, Mich. — Newly released personnel files obtained through the Freedom of Information Act reveal Montcalm County sheriff candidate Charlie Mahar was disciplined for having an extra marital affair while on the job.
The revelations come after the Greenville Daily News initially faced a legal battle with the county for requesting the same documents.
Considered standard procedure for local election coverage, the Greenville Daily News formally requested the personnel files of every candidate running for sheriff, including Montcalm County Undersheriff Mike Williams , Deputy Charlie Mahar and Ionia County Undersheriff Charles Noll.
But Montcalm County responded with a lawsuit filed against the local newspaper. The county said the suit was filed under the presumption that personnel records older than four years should be exempt from such requests under employment regulations, the Daily News reported.
Mahar's attorneys requested his file be denied under the presumption the county would be breaching a collective bargaining agreement if the files were released, Mahar said in a statement posted last week to his campaign Facebook page.
"For me to knowingly allow Bill Barnwell and the Sheriff’s Office to violate the terms of our contract would show poor leadership on my part," Mahar wrote. "As their potential sheriff, I know these men and women are looking to see if I will defend the contract that they have worked diligently to establish over the years."
The county eventually complied and provided the records to the Greenville Daily News over the weekend, which were also released to FOX 17 News on Monday.
READ: Full personnel file on Charlie Mahar released to FOX 17 News
The documents detail four disciplinary items on file for Mahar, two of which led to suspensions.
Most notable was a disciplinary item from November 2011 which details when county dispatch was unable to contact Mahar for roughly 30 minutes while he was on duty, according to the personnel file. Dispatch attempted contact around 2:44 a.m. through several different means including by radio, through his county-issued cell phone and pager and even by calling local gas stations.
Mahar was eventually reached at 3:15 a.m.
Later the same morning, Sgt. Mike Williams, now the county undersheriff, said he spoke with Mahar about the situation.
"He told me he didn’t check out of the car with Dispatch,” Williams wrote in the files. “He said, ‘I wasn’t going to check out at a girl’s house I shouldn’t be.’”
Eventually Mahar admitted to being at the home of a woman he'd been having an extramarital affair with after first meeting her while handling a case. The records detail how Mahar had met the woman a few years prior while investigating a criminal sexual conduct case involving the woman's daughter and had gone to visit her “several times while on duty over the course of six months,” according to documents.
The night when Mahar couldn't be reached by dispatch, he said he had been at her house to break it off because he had moved back in with his wife.
During the search for Mahar, deputies worked overtime trying to find him as a cost of $70.98 to the county.
"...Failure to report his location not only placed the citizens of Montcalm County at a greater risk, but made him unavailable for calls and to respond for backup to fellow deputies should the need have occurred," the records said.
Mahar was suspended without pay.
A January 2012 incident also detailed in the records provided to FOX 17 show Mahar was suspended without pay for "making what appeared to be several lengthy phone calls to a female friend while on duty, as well as off duty" using his county phone while on the clock.
Mahar also lost his departmental cell phone in 2008, resulting in a violation of the county's care of use and property rule. Two years prior, Mahar was found in violation of that same rule when "his cell phone was somehow activated and (Central) Dispatch was contacted by this phone …," during which it's claimed Mahar made two derogatory remarks about another police officer.
Tape of the recorded call found Mahar had said of a fellow officer: "I've heard he can be kind of an a***hole," with the recording further picking up Mahar stating the officer "got f****ing... got s****canned," the documents state.
Mahar did not immediately return calls from FOX 17 requesting comment on Monday. However, Mahar did post a joint statement from his wife to his campaign Facebook page:
"Mistakes do not define us, especially when considering the overall impact of a person’s life work. We have used this as an opportunity to share our story to help other families in our community, by giving our testimony of reconciliation before God and our entire faith community at Greenville Community Church.
We have accepted and thank all of the people who have supported our marriage during those trying times, which is why it is frustrating that anyone would try to use our story for political gain in the final hours of a campaign.
This is a shameful action and speaks to the other candidate's lack of principles.
Our past struggles have been a big part of shaping who we are today. In recent years, we have devoted our lives to helping married couples rekindle their relationship with Christ and to find the moments where He can provide strength to keep families together.
Just as we do in our faith community, we look forward to making a positive impact on Montcalm County, to enriching the lives of all residents through public service, and continuing to extend our utmost love and dedication to our family and this region we serve.
We ask for your understanding, your forgiveness and your consideration on August 2."
Undersherriff Mike Williams, who is also running for sheriff, had four disciplinary items on his personnel file released to FOX 17, including for backing into a patrol car with another patrol car and for losing roughly 10 grams of cocaine during a training exercise.
According to documents, Williams backed into a patrol car while operating a patrol car, causing minor damage in 2000.
In 2001, Williams said he lost roughly 10 grams of cocaine which was being used during a training exercise involving drug-sniffing dogs.
Williams became undersheriff in 2015.
READ: Full personnel file on Mike Williams released to FOX 17 News