FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – A Fort Wayne police officer appeared in court Tuesday morning for allegedly stealing gas cans and a chainsaw from a foreclosed home in northwest Allen County. Before appearing in court, the officer was demoted from a sergeant back to a patrol officer.
According to court documents, Scott Criswell attended a house party for some FWPD officers and their families in August 2013. He was apparently interested in buying a foreclosed property nearby.
The Affidavit for Probable Cause states during the party, Criswell hopped on an ATV with Heather Tegtmeyer and Patricia Sabo. Tegtmeyer and her husband, who is an FWPD officer, were hosting the party and owned the ATV. Sabo has the same last name as another FWPD officer.
Court documents state the three headed to the property and allegedly took gas cans inside the open door of an outbuilding. They then went to the home, where Criswell began trying to find an open door. He apparently found a door that was partially open with a safety chain securing it, and tried to unhook the chain with a stick he broke off a tree.
When Criswell couldn’t get the door open, Tegtmeyer told police she kicked the door open. The three allegedly went into the home, Criswell took a chainsaw from the attached garage, and they went back to the Tegtmeyer home.
Criswell has been arrested and charged with criminal conversion and criminal trespassing, both class A misdemeanors. He appeared in court for his initial hearing Tuesday. The judge released Criswell without posting bail, which is standard procedure.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Tegtmeyer and Sabo hadn’t received any charges.
Public Safety Director Rusty York told NewsChannel 15 how his department first heard about the crime.
“We heard about it from within. One of our officers reported it up to the chain of command. So we turned it over immediately to the Allen County Sheriff’s Department because this occurred in their jurisdiction,” York said.
During the lengthy investigation, York says the department administratively decided to demote Criswell from a sergeant back to a patrol officer. He was also suspended five days without pay.
York said the nature of the criminal allegations didn’t disqualify Criswell from being on the force.
“It still has to be adjudicated so I don’t know where it’s going to end up. But that would not prevent him from continuing his career as a law enforcement officer,” York said. “There are certain crimes obviously that would, if it would have been a felony or if it would’ve involved domestic battery, but those aren’t the cases.”
York says there were no other officers involved in the crimes.
An attorney conference for Criswell’s case is scheduled for June 11.