Former deputy challenges evidence in drug, theft case against him
LITCHFIELD--The former Meeker County sheriff's deputy accused of stealing drugs from the department's drug take-back box and toys from a toy drive says his confession was unlawfully used as evidence for a late-night search warrant without cause.
LITCHFIELD-The former Meeker County sheriff's deputy accused of stealing drugs from the department's drug take-back box and toys from a toy drive says his confession was unlawfully used as evidence for a late-night search warrant without cause.
In an omnibus motion he filed last week in Meeker County District Court, he asked a judge to throw out his post-arrest statement and evidence gathered from the search.
He's also requesting that the judge dismiss six of the nine charges in the case.
Travis Sebring, 33, of Grove City, was arrested in January on nine charges: three felony counts of fifth-degree drug possession, one felony theft charge and two misdemeanor theft charges, a gross misdemeanor charge for exceeding authority as a public officer and two petty misdemeanor drug charges.
Soon after, he formally resigned his post as sheriff's deputy.
Sebring had been set to appear at a Tuesday court hearing. After the omnibus motion was filed, that hearing was cancelled and reset for Aug. 22.
The Meeker County Sheriff's Office first suspected Sebring's drug activity in November, Sheriff Brian Cruze told the Tribune in January.
The department set up a controlled sting Jan. 26, in which a Renville County investigator placed two bottles of a controlled substance in a gray plastic bag, and planted the bag in the take-back box in the lobby of the Meeker County Law Enforcement Center in Litchfield.
Via live surveillance, Meeker County Sheriff Brian Cruze allegedly watched as Sebring unlocked the box and took the plastic tote with the gray bag and other medications out to the stairwell. He then put the tote back, locked the box and went to the parking lot, according to the criminal complaint.
That's when Cruze opened the box and found that the two planted pill containers were no longer inside the tote. Later, hidden camera footage confirmed that Sebring had removed the gray plastic bag containing the medication and concealed it in his pant pocket.
The criminal complaint indicates Sebring spoke with investigators that night and submitted a voluntary statement admitting to taking the drugs, toys and a chair-and that he had been taking medication from the box for "as long as a year."
Following his statements, Brown-Lyon-Redwood-Renville Task Force agents searched Sebring's Grove City residence per a search warrant and found the toys, chair, over 100 other prescription medication tablets, a glass pipe and marijuana.
Investigators also found over 50 prescription medicine tablets in Sebring's squad vehicle. He was arrested and booked into the Renville County Jail.
In court documents filed last week, Sebring argued his statement was not valid because he was not given a Miranda warning prior to speaking with investigators-a "right to silence" warning that legally must be given before any criminal interrogation.
In the documents filed last week, Sebring stated there was no cause for Meeker County District Court to issue a nighttime search warrant on his property since there was no suspicion that items in question may be destroyed.
He argued that the toys and 10 guns were illegally recovered from his home since they were not specified in the warrant.
In addition, he wrote that the drugs and toys should not be considered stolen since the drugs were "abandoned property" and the toys were "available to be given away to any participants who asked."
The drug take-back box is part of a nationwide program through the United States Drug Enforcement Administration. It provides a free, safe place to dispose of unneeded or unwanted medications in order to fight prescription drug abuse.
The toys were alleged to have been stolen from a Meeker County courthouse toy drive at Christmas.
Sebring is seeking for the dismissal of three theft charges and three of the drug charges.
Sebring has also filed a document in civil court asking for some of his property to be returned. Ten guns and $200 were seized from his home as part of the search.
Criminal proceedings have been slow. Sebring was granted a delay Feb. 8 to enter inpatient treatment through U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
His first appearance post-treatment was April 19.
Sebring's attorney, Michael Brant, told the Litchfield Independent Review newspaper in February that Sebring struggles from post-traumatic stress and drug addiction related to two tours in Iraq as a medical specialist.