By Lynda Jensen
HOWARD LAKE, MN A former Wright County deputy and current part-time Howard Lake police officer has been charged with two counts of forgery and one count of false certification of a notary public.
Douglas Charles Short, 40, who is also a former police chief of Silver Lake, is scheduled to appear in court regarding suspicious activity that took place in July 2007, according to the complaint.
The complaint alleges that Short forged the signature of Wright County Chief Deputy Joe Hagerty on an application form, as well as using the public notary stamp and endorsement of Howard Lake Clerk Gene Gilbert, during the summer of 2007.
The issue came to light when the sheriff’s office was asked by Minnesota Board of Private Detective and Protective Agent Services to verify information about Short Dec. 18, 2008.
The form faxed to the sheriff’s office contained a portion of information filled out by Short; notarized by Gene Gilbert July 25, 2007.
The bottom half of the form was to be filled out by Short’s previous or present employer, and appeared to have been signed and dated by Joe Hagerty, July 10, 2007, according to court documents.
Hagerty observed that the signature had similarities to his own, but did not recall ever signing a document for the defendant. It was also noted that an incorrect title was used for Hagerty; that being lieutenant, instead of chief deputy.
When asked in January of this year, Short admitted to an investigator that he filled out that section of the form himself to save time, and listed Chief Hagerty’s title as lieutenant instead of chief deputy because he did not know Hagerty had changed positions.
Short insisted that Hagerty had, in fact, signed the form himself, with Lt. Mike Even and Lt. Dan Anselment present.
According to the complaint, Short then stated that he realized the signature on the form was not Hagerty’s, but was signed by someone from human resources. “Sgt. Becky Howell stated that we do not have a ‘human resources’ department, but checked with Wright County Personnel, which stated that (it) did not sign any such form,” according to the complaint.
The complaint further alleged that a document purported to contain employer information from the Scott County Sheriffs Office contained Gilbert’s notary stamp, dated July 8, 2007, which was a Sunday.
Howell spoke with Gilbert, who stated that she had no record of notarizing the defendant’s signature in July 2007, and confirmed that her office, located at the Howard Lake City Hall, is not open Sundays.
Gilbert told investigators that the city hall offices are accessible to patrol officers during nighttime hours.
Short’s time cards reveal that he was working on the dates that his signature was “notarized” by Gilbert, according to the complaint.
Short is still listed as employed with the City of Howard Lake, although he hasn’t been scheduled any hours, confirmed Administrator Kelly Hinnenkamp. The city is waiting for the outcome of the investigation before taking action, if any, she said.