The finances of a Vermont sheriff’s department and the sheriff-elect due to take office next week, who is already facing charges of abusing a shackled prisoner, are being investigated, the Vermont State Police said.
Franklin County sheriff-elect John Grismore is facing a simple assault charge in after authorities say he was seen on surveillance video kicking a prisoner. He is due to take office on Feb. 1.
In a Wednesday email, Grismore, who was fired in August as a captain in the sheriff’s department, said he hadn’t been in the office for six months.
“I have no knowledge of any of this,” he said.
State Police spokesman Adam Silverman said detectives began the investigation “into the finances at the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department and Sheriff-elect John Grismore” at the request of Vermont Auditor of Accounts Doug Hoffer. Silverman says the investigation is active and ongoing, but no further information is available.
Hoffer told The Associated Press he referred the case to the state police earlier this month after a routine audit of the sheriff’s department discovered what he described as “questionable records.” A partner in the outside firm that was doing the audit told Hoffer of the problem.
Hoffer did not describe what prompted the concern by the outside auditor.
“It seemed to be appropriate, at that point, to contact the Vermont State Police, which I did,” Hoffer said. “And they are now engaged, although I don’t know how big a deal it is.”
Grismore was elected sheriff in November after having won both the Democratic and Republican nominations during Vermont’s August primary election.
Grismore, who had worked as a captain for the sheriff’s department, was fired from his job in August by outgoing Sheriff Roger Langevin after the kicking incident. It took place days before the primary, in which Grismore is seen on surveillance video kicking the prisoner who had been shackled to a bench at the sheriff’s department in St. Albans.
Grismore insisted he did nothing wrong and was using his foot to restrain the prisoner, who he accused of spitting at the deputies. He has said it was the minimum amount of force necessary to protect himself and other deputies who were in the room at the time.
Officials with both the Franklin County Republican and Democratic parties threw their support behind a write-in candidate, but Grismore won the November election anyway.
Under Vermont law, Grismore can only be removed from office if he was impeached by the Legislature. But there are no signs the Legislature plans to do that.