Longtime Lebanon detective fights firing after court conviction

A longtime Lebanon detective was fired from his job after pulling a loaded shotgun on his wife in their Warren County home.

But John Wetzel could regain his right to carry a gun and go back to work as a police officer.

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

Wetzel is appealing his firing, one step toward returning to his career in law enforcement, according to authorities. “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.

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

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

Mason Municipal Court Prosecutor Bethany Bennett was appointed to handle the case against the well-known local investigator, named Lebanon’s top police officer in 2016 by the Lebanon Optimists Club.

Wolff dismissed charges of menacing by stalking and domestic violence against Wetzel as part of a plea bargain worked out between Bennett and defense lawyer John Smith.

Wetzel “voluntarily underwent 30-day in-patient treatment” and demonstrated continued sobriety by wearing an ankle monitor checking his alcohol use, Bennett said.

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According to court records, Wolff ended the ankle monitoring at the sentencing, while ordering a lifetime protection order for Wetzel’s wife. The couple is now in divorce proceedings.

On Friday, 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.

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 spent one day in the county jail. His attorney, Smith, could not be reached for comment.

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