Ex-Lebanon detective gets $20K, chance to work again in settlement

John Wetzel

A long-time Lebanon detective, fired from his job after pulling a loaded shotgun on his wife in their Warren County home, withdrew his grievance and resigned in a settlement agreement leaving open the possibility of him working again as a police officer.

John Wetzel “dismissed his grievance and resigned prior to the hearing taking place,” Lebanon City Attorney Mark Yurick said in an email Thursday.

The resignation was part of a settlement with the city obtained by this newspaper.

Wetzel, 42, was fired on Oct. 21 and placed on probation on Oct. 28 after pleading guilty to using a weapon while intoxicated in Warren County Court.

In the settlement, Wetzel agreed to resign, effective Oct. 21, and release the city from other claims.

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In exchange, Wetzel is to receive $20,270, based on 50 percent of the amount of accrued and unused sick leave he would have been entitled to otherwise.

Wetzel also retained 537.6 hours of accrued and unused sick leave to transfer if he “is employed by another Ohio public entity,” according to an unsigned copy of the agreement.

The city also agreed “to provide a neutral reference if one is requested, confirming Employee’s dates of employment with the City. The Employer shall indicate that the reason for separation is a resignation.”

The grievance hearing, scheduled for Wednesday, was a step toward returning Wetzel to his career in law enforcement.

“If deemed fit to return to work, the court will lift any and all restrictions for defendant to use and possess a firearm,” Judge William Wolff Jr. said in Wetzel’s sentencing.

Wetzel has been barred from handling firearms since Aug. 11, when he allegedly threatened to kill his wife and her boyfriend and “opened his top dresser drawer, pulled out a shotgun and racked a round into the chamber.

Mrs. Wetzel stated that she has ‘never been so afraid in her life’ and she dialed 911,” according to the report.

Wetzel told police “he had been drinking most of the day and again he advised he was just mad and would not actually kill his wife or her boyfriend,” according to the report.

Wolff, a retired Montgomery County judge appointed in the case, put Wetzel on probation for one year and ordered him to continue outpatient treatment for alcohol abuse.

RELATED: Lebanon police detective accuse of threatening to kill his wife pleads not guilty

Mason Municipal Court Prosecutor Bethany Bennett was appointed to handle the case against the local investigator.

Bennett said the judge’s willingness to clear a path to Wetzel again carrying a gun and returning to police work was in recognition of the possibility he could prevail in an appeal of his firing.

Wolff was appointed to preside over the case filed after police were called to Wetzel’s Clearcreek Twp. home by a 911 call from his wife on Aug. 11.

Wolff dismissed charges of menacing by stalking and domestic violence against Wetzel as part of a plea bargain.

Wetzel, named Lebanon’s top police officer in 2016 by the Lebanon Optimists Club, “voluntarily underwent 30-day in-patient treatment” and demonstrated continued sobriety by wearing an ankle monitor checking his alcohol use, Bennett said after the sentencing.

RELATED: Original report

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