September 22, 2014

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Kipton officer faces theft charges

NORWALK — A Kipton police lieutenant who earlier this year investigated his own police chief for theft allegations was himself arrested Friday night on a Huron County grand jury’s secret indictment for theft from an elderly person, Huron County officials said.

Robert Wolfkill, 46, a Kipton police lieutenant who investigated Kipton Police Chief Pablo Cruz for allegations of theft in office, was arrested about 10:30 p.m. Friday by Huron County deputies, about a day after a Huron County grand jury issued the indictment, said Russell Leffler, Huron County prosecutor.

Wolfkill was taken to Huron County Jail on the theft charges — a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine — where he was to be held without bond until a court hearing Monday, Leffler said.

 
Wolfkill

For the past eight months, Huron County sheriff deputies have been investigating allegations that Wolfkill stole money from an elderly woman whom he befriended in Milan while he was a police officer there, Leffler said. 

The victim was in her 80s and a nursing home resident, Leffler said.

Authorities believe Wolfkill befriended the woman and obtained power of attorney over her affairs, including her financial assets, Leffler said.

Authorities believe Wolfkill took at least $5,000 from the woman’s bank account during a two-year period from summer of 2004 to June 2006, Leffler said.

In June 2006, nursing home employees grew suspicious when problems began to arise with the victim’s Medicaid account, Leffler said.

“(Wolfkill) wasn’t following through on some of her Medicaid things,” Leffler said.

The power of attorney was revoked from Wolfkill that month, but state officials and the nursing home continued looking into the matter. In January this year — roughly the same time that Wolfkill was investigating his own police chief for allegations of theft — Huron County sheriff’s deputies began investigating Wolfkill’s involvement with the elderly woman, Leffler said.

The monthslong investigation culminated in Friday’s arrest, and Leffler said Wolfkill admitted to investigators that he was having financial problems.

If found guilty of the theft charges, Wolfkill could face a minimum of probation and maximum of five years in prison, as well as a $10,000 fine, Leffler said.

In January, Wolfkill conducted an investigation of his own boss, Cruz, after accusations arose that Cruz double-dipped by being reimbursed twice for a $98 film purchase made in December 2006 for a holiday party.

Based on Wolfkill’s investigation, Kipton officials suspended Cruz for 45 days for what they deemed was simply a case of “sloppy” record-keeping, though Cruz maintained he was never actually reimbursed twice for the money.

In April — just as Cruz’s suspension was up — Kipton Mayor Dennis Watson again suspended Cruz for allegedly altering a public document, though Watson at the time declined to provide specifics and couldn’t be reached Saturday for comment.
Cruz, an Elyria resident, remains on unpaid administrative leave.

Contact Shawn Foucher at 329-7197 or sfoucher@chroniclet.com.