WaKEENEY — On Monday, WaKeeney Police Chief Terry Eberle will appear in court for a hearing on his arrest for allegedly violating a no-contact order, and that evening the city council will discuss his arrest and pending charges.
The WaKeeney City Council will have a special meeting at 6 p.m. Monday in city hall. According to a notice posted by City Administrator Hardy Howard, the council, with city attorney present, will discuss the arrest and pending charges against Eberle.
Eberle initially was arrested Wednesday afternoon by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation and faces pending charges of intimidation of a witness, blackmail, harassment by telephone, tampering with public records, attempted interference with law enforcement and two counts of theft.
He was released on an own recognizance bond later that day and ordered to have no contact with individuals considered witnesses, with the exception of his son, and other WaKeeney police officers and city officials for discussion of police business.
According to a statement in court records from Assistant Police Chief Ashley Garza, Eberle went to the Law Enforcement Center that evening and discussed the arrest affadavit with her.
He was arrested Thursday on a bench warrant on suspicion of violating the no-contact order and is in custody at the Ellis County Jail.
Monday’s hearing will be at 9:45 a.m. Monday at the Ellis County Courthouse.
A transcript of Wednesday’s bond hearing shows Eberle expressed concern about being able to request counsel and assist the department to conduct immediate business needs since the mayor, city council members and police officers were on the no-contact list.
“We’re losing a man on Sunday, it’s his last day, so we revamped our schedule over there,” he said in requesting to be able to meet with Assistant Police Chief Ashley Garza.
“Obviously, in your capacity as chief of police, you are going to need to make certain arrangements because you still have responsibilities to your community, and I appreciate that and know that you want to handle that appropriately,” Judge Glenn R. Braun said, according to the transcript.
Eberle also asked during the hearing if he would be allowed to leave the state for a planned vacation to Flagstaff, Ariz., over Memorial Day weekend, and if he would have access to the Law Enforcement Center.
“Part of the reason I say that, I’m 30-some years as an EMT, and I also work on the ambulance service in that same building,” he said.
Regarding the vacation, Braun allowed the trip and advised Eberle to notify the county attorney for any other travel outside the state.
The judge also acknowledged the no-contact order was a touchy situation because of Eberle’s position in the community.
“This is a delicate matter because of your public position,” Braun said. “How you deal with that with the city, with the county attorney’s office, with the ambulance service, which is a county agency, that’s strictly up to you and those agencies, and the court’s not going to interfere in that.
“I know there’s a lot of questions and uncertainties, and hopefully those will get figured out in the not-too-distant future,” he said.
Braun said he was not going to include Eberle’s son, Joshua, in the no-contact order and allowed contact with the mayor, city council members and police officers for conducting business. He said he believed Garza would report any questionable contact.
“If you cross the line, she’ll, I’m sure, report it to the county attorney. I don’t think that will happen, but just be very cautious in your dealings with her,” Braun said. “I think you have certain responsibilities that need to be recognized, and I understand you want to have those carried out.”
But he might have crossed that line, as a statement from Garza about a conversation she and Eberle had Wednesday evening was used to request a motion to revoke his bond and issue a bench warrant for his arrest Thursday, alleging he violated the no-contact agreement.
Eberle called Garza about 6:30 p.m. Wednesday and then met her at the Law Enforcement Center, according to Garza’s statement. He was upset he could not get into his office because it was still sealed from the KBI investigation. Garza told him KBI agents were still in the building, and he went to the garage to speak to them.
After talking with the agents, Eberle walked out a back door, the statement said.
“I followed Terry outside. Terry stated that my name was all over the affidavit from his arrest. I stated that I was sure it was. Terry stated that what was in the affidavit was not what I had told him was talked about with KBI,” the statement said.
Garza told the chief she was aware of that and if she had told him what was in the affidavit, he would have gotten and mad and she would be in trouble.
Eberle said he felt like he had been stabbed in the back, the statement said.
“Terry stated that he didn’t know half of the stuff that I was talking about that was in the affidavit. Terry also stated that whatever plan I had it worked. I told Terry that he could believe it or not but that I have never had a plan,” Garza wrote.
Eberle said he would speak to her further when he had an attorney present, then left the LEC.
The KBI’s investigation began with a Jan. 12 request from Trego County Attorney Chris Lyon after several allegations of wrongdoing were made against Eberle, according to a KBI release. The investigation is ongoing.
Counts one through four, as outline in the complaint filed against Eberle in Trego County District Court on Wednesday, stem from Eberle’s alleged actions around Aug. 15 to 24, 2012:
• Blackmail, a severity level 7 nonperson felony. The complaint alleges Eberle attempted to gain anything of value or compelled an unnamed person to act against their will by threatening to communicate statements that would subject them to public ridicule, contempt or degradation.
• Harassment by telephone, a class A nonperson misdemeanor, attempted interference with law enforcement, a class B misdemeanor, and intimidation of a witness or victim, a class B misdemeanor, stem from Eberly allegedly making a phone call to Trego County Emergency Management Director Kathleen Fabrizius, trying to persuade her to lie in a statement to the Trego County Sheriff with intent to prevent or hinder the prosecution of Joshua Eberle, and threatening she could lose her job if she testified.
Records from Trego County District Court show the younger Eberle is facing charges for alleged theft of fuel from the county in November. He entered a not guilty plea on that charge on April 25.
Prior to that, the only charge in Trego County for Joshua Eberle is a minor traffic infraction in 2006.
The charge of intimidation was struck down by Braun from aggravated intimidation, a severity level 6 person felony, according to the bond hearing transcript. A reason for the change is not mentioned in the transcript.
Counts five through seven involve Eberly allegedly altering work hours of Garza and Officer Mark Dahlsten:
• Tampering with a public record around Oct. 25, 2015, a class A nonperson misdemeanor.
• Two counts of theft for changing the hours worked by the Garza in October 2015 and Dahlsten in February 2016.
This is not the first time Eberle has been under scrutiny. From 2007 to 2009, he, along with then City Councilwoman Charlene Neish and then Mayor Kenneth Deutscher were the subject of an inquiry requested by the Kansas Attorney General’s office.
Details of the investigation never were revealed, but seemed to center on use of cellphones and city vehicles. Ellis County Attorney Tom Drees was the special prosecutor for the inquisition.
No charges ever were filed against the three in relation to the inquisition, but it did cause turmoil in the city.
Shortly after the inquisition became known to the public, WaKeeney voters chose a new mayor and two city council members. The new mayor did not list Eberle among his appointments for city positions, but a split vote by the council meant the chief retained his job.
Later in the process, however, Eberle became concerned of an attempt to remove him from the job again, and launched a write-in campaign for county sheriff. The campaign failed, but Eberle kept his job as chief.
Eberle also faced losing his job in 2002 along with the sheriff, when a proposal to dismantle each agency and consolidate city and county law enforcement was put to a public vote. It failed to pass, however.
The following year, Eberle temporarily oversaw county law enforcement after Sheriff Curt Bender and Undersheriff Chad Mann resigned. Those resignations and the firing of a deputy left the county with no law enforcement officers. A new sheriff was appointed by the governor about two months later.
Eberle was involved in the investigation of recent high-profile cases, including the 2016 trial of a WaKeeney man convicted of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit domestic battery for feeding his girlfriend a pancake laced with an abortion pill, and a string of burglaries in 2015 that included Cleland Pharmacy in WaKeeney.
When asked if any cases Eberle investigated would come under review considering his arrest and the pending charges, Trego County Attorney Chris Lyon said he had no comment.