A call last week from a local U.S. Post Office about a suspicious package ended in the arrest of one sergeant and three corrections officers—all 20-year-plus veterans of the Kent County Sheriff Department.
According to Undersheriff Jon Hess and Sheriff Larry Stelma, the Kent Area Narcotics Enforcement Team (KANET) was called on March 17, 2014, to inspect a suspicious package. The investigation led to a suspect responsible for the package, which contained marijuana. Investigators discovered the suspects were making and/or in possession of a large quantity of marijuana extract called “marijuana butter.”
The four suspects arrested are Kent County Sheriff Department Corrections Officers: Corrections Sergeant Tim Bernhardt, a 22-year veteran, charged with Delivery/Manufacture Marijuana and Conspiracy to Deliver/Manufacture a Controlled Substance; Corrections Officer Mike Frederick, 24-year veteran charged with Delivery/Manufacture Marijuana and Possession of a Controlled Substance; Corrections Officer Todd VanDoorne, 22-year veteran charged with Possession of a Controlled Substance and Maintaining a Drug House; Corrections Officer Brian Tennant, a 20-year veteran charged with Delivery/Manufacture Marijuana and Possession of a Controlled Substance.
The suspects were arraigned on March 21, 2014, at the 63rd District Court in front of Judge Servaas. Bond was set at $2,000.00, and the employees were placed on administrative leave.
According to Sheriff Stelma, the Sheriff Department did a comprehensive internal investigation as a result of the arrests. Four additional Correctional Officers were placed on paid administrative leave and were administered drug testing to exclude their involvement in criminal activity. Their test results were negative and those four Corrections Officers were cleared of criminal wrong-doing and have been returned to full duty.
They believe the original four officers arrested were acting alone and that no other offices were involved in the criminal activity.