WaKEENEY — WaKeeney Police Chief Terry Eberle made his first appearance Wednesday morning in Trego County District Court.
Eberle was arrested in May by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation.
Eberle appeared with his defense lawyer Paul Oller and waived a right to a formal reading of the seven charges filed against him. The charges stem from Eberle’s alleged actions Aug. 15 to 24, 2012:
• Blackmail, a severity level 7 nonperson felony with a sentence on conviction of 11 to 34 months in prison. 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 Eberle 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. Convictions could result in up to a year in county jail for the harassment charge and up to six months for the attempted interference and intimidation.
• The remaining charges — one count of tampering with a public record and two counts of theft — allege Eberle altered the work hours of Assistant Police Chief Ashley Garza and Officer Mark Dahlsten in October 2015 and February 2016 and are class A nonperson misdemeanors, each with a sentence of up to a year in county jail.
Eberle initially was released on his own recognizance following his May 3 arrest, but was arrested again the next day after violating a no-contact order. Under the conditions of the bond, he could speak to other WaKeeney police officers and city officials regarding departmental business, but at the WaKeeney Law Enforcement center that evening, he attempted to discuss his arrest affidavit with Garza.
District Judge Blake Bittel ruled that a violation of the no-contact order and issued a bench warrant for Eberle’s arrest. At a hearing May 8, Bittel revoked the bond, but reinstated it on the condition Eberle have no contact with any witnesses in the case other than his son. Eberle was placed under supervision through Ellis County Court Services.
Eberle remains on release under the own recognizance bond agreement. A preliminary hearing will be scheduled.