Investigation: Ex-Clark County chief deputy helped deputies cheat on tests

Published: Friday, August 24, 2018 @ 10:32 PM

An investigation found the former chief deputy for the Clark County Sheriff’s Office helped other deputies cheat on tests.

In March, Travis Russell resigned when the investigation started. With the full investigative report complete, News Center 7’s John Bedell has more on what the investigation found, and the punishments handed down.

Travis Russell, former chief deputy of the Clark County Sheriff's Office

The probe was conducted by Preble County Chief Deputy Mike Spitler and Darke County Chief Deputy Mark Whittaker, and led to a 650-page report and summary detailing their work and 30 CDs of interviews, which this news organization obtained through a public records request.

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One of the first voices on the CDs is Whittaker talking to Clark County Sheriff’s Deputy Nick Moody.

“So you know why you’re here. This is to do with the integrity issues with the detective’s test,” Whittaker said.

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Moody told the investigators about the moment the sheriff’s office found out about the cheating last spring. “They said, ‘were you given answers to the test?’ And I said I was. And they said, ‘OK, who gave you them?’ — Chief Russell.”

The investigation found former Chief Deputy Travis Russell helped Moody and Deputy Josh Cumby cheat on a test for open detective slots with the sheriff’s office.

“He just started with his highlighter, just starting highlighting stuff and he’s no really saying much,” Moody said. “What he had highlighted was the preferred answers.”

Russell and Cumby resigned but will be able to get their pensions.

Moody was given a written reprimand and banned for two years from applying for promotions.

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When interviewed, he expressed fear the consequences would be far worse.

“I mean I was definitely scared for my job. I thought I was going to be canned right away,” he told investigators.

Deputies Ben Barrett and William Sanders were found to have known about the cheating but did not report it. They received verbal reprimands.

Maj. Andrew Reynolds also knew what Russell was doing but did not report it. He was given a written reprimand.

Sheriff Deborah Burchett was not available for an on-camera interview with News Center 7, but she wrote a detailed letter in the report stating the deputies still employed who were interviewed did not try to cover up the cheating.

Clark County Sheriff Deborah Burchett helps serve ice cream July 25, 2018, at the Golden Wedding Celebration at the Clark County Fair. JEFF GUERINI/STAFF

Burchett said that honesty was a mitigating factor when she decided punishments.

Investigators found nothing criminal. All the punishment was for professional conduct.

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