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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Chief deputy stands in for sheriff

Monday, August 18, 2008

By Maribeth Ward

Staff Writer

During the Putnam County Commissioners' meeting Monday night, county attorney Scott Hoff read a short resignation letter from Sheriff Mark Frisbie -- the same one given to county clerk Marty Watts last Friday.

It simply reads, "It is with profound regret that I tender my resignation as Sheriff, effective immediately. I'm sure there will be questions concerning this matter and I defer all inquiries to my attorney Robert Hammerle." It is signed, "Respectfully, Mark T. Frisbie."

Frisbie had not surrendered his badge or any other sheriff's department property prior to the commissioners accepting the resignation. But Chief Deputy Virgil Lanning said he did expect them to be turned in following the commissioners' meeting.

County commissioners were not notified officially until Monday morning of Frisbie's resignation., they said. However, they did hear from a number of people in the community.

"I've never had a cell phone go dead from the number of calls," said Beck. "I got so many calls my phone battery died."

Following the announcement of Frisbie's resignation, Lanning was introduced as the interim sheriff. Lanning has been Chief Deputy for about one year and has been in law enforcement for more than five years.

Lanning was out of town on a family emergency and did not learn about Frisbie's resignation until Monday morning, he said. He met with Hoff to go over the details of his temporary term.

He assured commissioners Gene Beck, Kristina Warren and Jim Baird that the department was fully functional and all patrols were taking place without interruption.

"I know there have been lots of rumors about guys resigning. So far that is not true. We are handling regular patrols and regular shifts. I have some plans I want to put into place. I know it's a short time, but there are some things I want to change. I'll be talking to you (commissioners) later about them," said Lanning.

No one in the audience said anything about Frisbie during the meeting. Television media were there along with the Banner Graphic covering the meeting, but no statements or comments were made until after the meeting.

County Commissioners Beck and Warren voiced concern for public safety and said that the County Attorney met with Lanning earlier and discussed jail operations, the upcoming budget hearings and claims process.

"We are concerned about the safety and welfare of all the people of Putnam County," said Beck.

Putnam County Republican party chairman Larry Sutton told the Banner Graphic last Saturday that there will be a caucus to elect an interim sheriff. The party has 30 days from the resignation for all 29-precinct committeepersons to meet, and the majority of them will vote to decide who will serve the remainder of Frisbie's term.

After the meeting, Lanning had little information to give the media.

"I just don't know," he said in answer to questions about Frisbie. He did state that he does not intend to apply for the sheriff's position.

"I'm just not political," he said.

The resignation comes after a State Board of Accounts audit that found $4,400 in missing or misspent money by the sheriff, which included airfare, a $600 limousine tour of Washington D.C., $100 lunch at a Hooter's restaurant and campaign materials.

Frisbie paid back the $4,400 in December 2007 out of his own pocket at the request of the officials at the State Board of Accounts.

In the December 2007 story in the Banner Graphic, it was reported that state auditors found problems in the Putnam County sheriff's Department Commissary Fund every year Frisbie had been sheriff. Under his watch, spending from the account more than doubled and past State Board of Accounts audits showed that Frisbie took at least two years to correct most problems investigators pointed out in the Commissary Fund and other Sheriff's Department accounts.

At that time, Frisbie explained his slow response to State Board of Accounts findings on inconsistent advice from auditors. He also said the ballooning Commissary Fund expenditures reflected the growing costs of law enforcement equipment.

Only the State Board of Accounts has oversight of the Commissary Fund. However, the sheriff is required to make reports to the County Council twice a year.

In April 2008, the investigation into Frisbie was handed over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Attorney's Office in Indianapolis.

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I hope that the caucus meeting doesn't take the full amount of time, our county needs to feel protected and safe. Quite honestly many of us citizens saw this coming, so it should be no suprise to the committee who will decide our sheriff until the next election. Being a family man myself, I hope that Mark's family is kept from all the limelight.

-- Posted by bigjohndeere on Mon, Aug 18, 2008, at 11:00 PM

I hope for a speedy apointing of the Sheriff, however I do hope it is someone with several years experience and a long time Putnam County resident.

-- Posted by Trying hard on Tue, Aug 19, 2008, at 4:30 AM

I hear the commissioners saying they are concerned about public safety, but they have been asleep at the switch up to this point.... For the sake of this County someone with expereince better be serving as mentor and oversight for PCSD. The interim is an OK guy but that expereince noted is mostly as a part-time reserve officer. Perhaps someone should be appointed as oversight administrator reporting to the commissioners until this debacle is resolved.

-- Posted by Seagullslim on Tue, Aug 19, 2008, at 7:09 AM

Why would anyone be concerned for the safety of the residents of Putnam County. Just because Mark resigned does not make for a lapse in the Sheriff's Department. It's ran for several days without Frisbie and it's okay. Is Mark the only one that made this county safe. So I don't understand why Beck and Warren are concerned! Do they not have faith in the people still working at the jail?

-- Posted by whodouthinkur on Tue, Aug 19, 2008, at 7:23 AM

I can't understand why people are so concerned over Frisbie and his family. According to the money taken the family enjoyed the money as well.

They should treat him NO DIFFERENT than any other dishonest person who has been prosecuted!

-- Posted by Innocent on Tue, Aug 19, 2008, at 7:50 AM

It's a small, good ole boy county. As long you are from here most things just don't matter and people turn their heads. Isn't it about time we got into present day and started acting like things really do matter, even in a small county???? My friends outside of good ole Pooot-NAM county are saying, you're surprised by this??? Let's get on the stick people and elect HONEST people, NOT just home boys!

-- Posted by smalltime on Tue, Aug 19, 2008, at 9:10 AM

When you start replacing crown vics and taurus' for expeditions and chargers, I'd say equiptment costs are going to rise. He spent countless tax dollars and it most definetly ended up costing tax payers even more money to put fuel in those gas hoggers. Hopefully whoever replaces him keeps tax paying citizens in mind. Lets pray this doesnt happen again and make our county look even worse.

-- Posted by cmg071580 on Tue, Aug 19, 2008, at 9:38 AM

Virgil is a good guy, however he was only a police officer for a year fresh from the police acadamy when he was appointed chief deputy. Im not saying that he is bad, however the math adds up. A fresh officer appointed by Mark and only has served under Mark. What kind of decisions is he going to make. I'm sure that he knows only what Mark has taught him, and not how the system really works. I hope him the best, however I think he has a major mountain to climb.

-- Posted by uttersillyness on Tue, Aug 19, 2008, at 10:42 AM

What has been done, is done. It is time for all of us to move forward. It is going to take a lot of public support for our Sheriff's Department to recover from the black eye. I am supporting Virgil and the rest of the department. I think we should be optimists and not pessimists when thinking of the future. Lets ALL be a part of the solution and not live in and re-live the past. I am in agreement that we need to learn from the mistakes of the past, although if we could predict the actions of people in future decisions, then we would live in a perfect world, and we most certainly don't.

I will be looking forward to seeing some positive changes coming from Virgil very soon, as well as from the person chosen to fulfil this 4 year term.

-- Posted by Whynotwrite on Tue, Aug 19, 2008, at 2:07 PM

you've got to be kidding pointer, why get some old hack who is trained from the past, and second a long term resident from putnam county, woow! just because one young sheriff did the pooch doesn't mean the next will, and the good ole boy syndrome will never break off as long as friends from here keep the same cycle going!

try an outsider who doesn't pal with the same crew from "putman county" (spelling err on purpose to prove a point!)

-- Posted by gottokno on Tue, Aug 19, 2008, at 2:48 PM

Last line of article. "In April 2008, the investigation into Frisbie was handed over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Attorney's Office in Indianapolis."

Why, after the $4400 being repaid, was an investigation turned over to the Fed's? Frisbie might have taken a long time to explain irregularities to the State Board of Accounts every year of his two terms; but what is it that requires the FBI and U.S. Attorney?

Seems to me that we are not being told the whole truth. Is Frisbie involved in the George Alexander scandal? What monies have not been paid back or explained? Is there anything else other than money we need to worry about?

Frisbie was very eager to put Alexander's head on the chopping block, even before an official investigation or formal charges were made. Notice now how the stage is set for Frisbie to just fade away with little question. We deserve better. We need to be assured that all the rotten apples are out of the barrel.

-- Posted by mist54 on Tue, Aug 19, 2008, at 3:08 PM

To towniegownie:

Get your facts straight before popping off the mouth.....the county officers SHOULD be the ones protecting the county. The state police officers out of Putnamville are responsible for covering three different counties, not just Putnam. Their main responsibility is the interstate.

-- Posted by dell on Tue, Aug 19, 2008, at 6:04 PM

Is there really a good reason to drop the f-word?

-- Posted by citizenoftheworld on Tue, Aug 19, 2008, at 10:35 PM

As I said back months ago when this whole story came to light, were Frisbie a military man he would end up in the brig. One can be certain if the FBI is involved, there is much more to Frisbie's story than dipping out of petty cash funds. A criminal is a criminal, plain and simple. If he's arrested and found guilty he will see the inside of a federal prison. So be it.

-- Posted by klskgermany on Tue, Aug 19, 2008, at 10:51 PM

2 years to pay money back...............So much for the Frisbee supporters who claimed he repaid all STOLEN funds the same day. I say hang em in his own poorly run jail. Treat him the same, if he's on meds, don't give them to him, wean him off them regardless whether it's best for his health, in other words........ treat him as any other PCJ prisoner was treated under his watch. And I agree, let's not replace him with the good ole boy system here in "Putman" County. Bring in some new blood with fresh ideas, who will make decisions best for the county residents and not just best for Frisbee's family, friends, and supporters.

-- Posted by tazroxs58 on Wed, Aug 20, 2008, at 4:56 AM

I think Deputy Lanning will do a fine job as acting sheriff. He has been a great deputy. And as for the family of Mr. Frisbie, I believe they wanted to believe in him. I pray his family will be ok. I am sure this will be a bumpy road for them.

-- Posted by ajn1994 on Wed, Aug 20, 2008, at 2:19 PM

Frisbee was never at the department anyways. So how it is any different then now??? I feel bad for the Deputies. They are the ones that are being punished for Frisbee's mistakes in the community. Deputy Pettit and Deputy Slover are working VERY hard in the community. I SEE them all over the county, trying to make the community safe.. We don't need a sheriff to do that. GOOD job guys.... GO get'm

-- Posted by Birdgog25 on Thu, Aug 21, 2008, at 6:59 AM


-- Posted by Nick | Nack on Thu, Aug 21, 2008, at 7:01 PM

I also agree. I know a lot of the deputies and they are real good people. I know for a fact that Deputy Slover even does work when he isn't even on duty. People call him direct instead of calling dispatch because they know they can count on him. They never get credit for the good work they do. They hardly make enough money to get by. Mark makes the whole department look bad. He should've been paying the deputies for the good work they do but instead he chose to use the money to run his own security company so he could make more money. I hope he gets what he deserves. He can share a jail cell with George Alexander for several years.

-- Posted by paddy whack on Thu, Aug 21, 2008, at 11:47 PM

I think it is great that some of you want to single out a few deputies for their hard work. Honestly, all of those men and women do a great job, a job not many of us want any part of. This whole situation is messy, and I do feel bad for everyone involved. But, it reminds me of a story a former putnam County Sheriff told me. "This is a great job for one term. The second term is "thin ice" because you have made to many enemies the wrong friends." I don't think any normal person would really want this job until the state refines the job description (commissary fund etc....). By the way, I don't think the local PD has had any problems like this (they have a system of checks and balances).

Just my opinion, and thanks to all the deputies, baliffs, and support people down at the dept.

-- Posted by idiot on Tue, Aug 26, 2008, at 4:09 PM

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