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Judge jails ex-Vigo County sheriff’s deputy, citing risk to public safety

November 15, 2016

A federal judge ordered a former Vigo County sheriff deputy’s pretrial detention because the officer posed a danger to public safety for threatening to kill potential witnesses, and because the evidence against him in a kickbacks case indicates “that he believes he can operate outside of the law.”

Frank Shahadey is awaiting trial behind bars after he was charged earlier this month with theft or bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds. Shahadey had been assigned to the Vigo County School Corp., from which he and former facilities director Frank Fennell are accused of stealing more than $5,000 each.

U.S. District Court Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson overruled a magistrate’s recommendation that Shahadey be held on home detention before his trial after the government moved for reversal. She wrote in an order issued Nov. 10 that Shahadey had threatened a business owner from whom he and Fennell allegedly demanded kickbacks for work done for the schools, resulting in more than $80,500 in inflated costs from 2014 through October 2016.

One witness claimed Shahadey had threatened and physically intimidated him – incidents that were reported to the school corporation. The alleged intimidation took place after the FBI had raided the school’s offices seeking evidence of the kickbacks scheme, which the government alleges Shahadey and Fennell continued even after the raid. The government said Shahadey’s threats had caused the witness to decline to be involved as the case proceeds due to fear for his safety.

“While Mr. Shahadey’s counsel argued at the hearing that Mr. Shahadey’s threatening comments were ‘just talk,’ the Court disagrees,” Magnus-Stinson wrote, finding one alleged instance to be a clear and credible threat. There also was evidence Shahadey’s family members knew about and profited from the alleged scheme.

“(T)he Court has no confidence that Mr. Shahadey would comply with conditions of release. Further, the ties that Mr. Shahadey has with his family and his associates, and their demonstrated willingness to act on his behalf, indicate that home detention (where he would be surrounded by those family members and associates) and GPS monitoring are not sufficient under the circumstances,” Magnus-Stinson wrote.

The case in the Terre Haute Division of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana is United States v. Frank Shahadey, 2:16-mj-32.

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