A federal indictment unsealed Tuesday alleges that an Indiana sheriff gave a badge and part of a sheriff's uniform to a prostitute he was paying for oral sex and then lied about it when he became ensnared in a federal investigation.
Clark County Sheriff Daniel N. Rodden is also accused of trying to destroy evidence. Rodden, who has denied the charges, faces up to 55 years in prison if convicted of all eight felony counts.
Rodden, 60, whose website describes him as married for 29 years and the father of two adult children, is the second Indiana sheriff in as many months to be accused of a relationship with a prostitute. He was elected sheriff in 2007.
Rodden did not immediately respond to a message left at his office Tuesday, and a spokesman could not be reached for comment.
According to the indictment, on May 14, 2013, Rodden gave an unidentified prostitute a deputy's badge and official law enforcement credentials so she could obtain discounted hotel rates available to government employees.
Then, on May 29, 2013, the indictment says, Rodden again met the prostitute, at a Hyatt Regency Hotel in Louisville, Ky., where he gave her a uniform shirt and other Clark County Sheriff’s Office clothing, then paid her $300 for oral sex.
A year later, federal officials said, FBI agents interviewed Rodden three times as part of an investigation of wire fraud and interstate prostitution. (The indictment doesn't make clear if Rodden was a sole or direct target of the investigation.)
Officials said Rodden lied at all three interviews, and the indictment outlines the charges that quickly began to pile up.
On May 27 of this year, the document says, Rodden told the FBI that he hadn’t given away the badge and credentials. In the same meeting, Rodden said he didn't have a sexual relationship with the prostitute and that he didn't pay for sex, comments that led to charges of making false statements.
The same day, officials say, Rodden, after he had been questioned, told the prostitute to “get rid of” the law enforcement credentials and uniform, leading to a fourth charge: counseling the destruction of evidence.
Two days later, officials say, Rodden told them he did not have the prostitute’s phone number, which led to a fifth charge (making a false statement) because the conversation about getting rid of the badge and the uniform allegedly occurred when Rodden called the prostitute.
On June 5, Rodden reiterated that he didn’t have a sexual relationship with the prostitute, didn’t pay for oral sex and didn’t have the prostitute’s phone number.
The final tally: seven charges of making a false statement and one charge of counseling the destruction of evidence. Making a false statement carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, and counseling the destruction of evidence can result in up to 20 years.
“Our message has been consistent but bears repeating: If you violate the public trust, our Public Corruption Working Group will find you, will investigate you and will prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law,” U.S. Atty. Joseph H. Hogsett said in a statement, referring to a joint federal and state anti-corruption task force.
Rodden appeared in front of a magistrate judge in Indiana on Tuesday afternoon. According to the Associated Press, the judge read the shackled Rodden his rights, and after his restraints were removed, Rodden sat with his head bowed and a dazed look on his face as attorneys asked and answered questions on his behalf. AP reported that he was released under conditions that include barring him from having access to guns.
The charges against Rodden come a month after another Indiana sheriff, Boone County Sheriff Ken Campbell, resigned over "alleged misconduct over the last three to four years with an alleged prostitute," according to the Indianapolis Star.
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