A former Beaverhead County Sheriff’s Office sergeant being investigated at the state level for alleged misconduct while on duty submitted a letter to a state oversight board last month that denies the allegations against him and accuses county officials of attempting to discredit him for political reasons.
In the letter former Sgt. Dan Mulkey submitted to the Montana Public Safety Officer Standards and Training Council on May 13, he charges that he was “a political target” for both Beaverhead County Attorney Jed Fitch and Sheriff Paul Craft.
Mulkey's letter is a response to a note Craft submitted to POST on Feb. 1 that claimed Mulkey had resigned “while under investigation of [sic] lying during an official investigation,” according to POST documents.
About three weeks later, Craft hand-delivered a letter and thumb drive to POST officials detailing the misconduct allegations the Beaverhead County Sheriff’s Office was making against Mulkey.
Those allegations included claims that the Mulkey engaged in a sexual relationship with a dispatcher while on duty, lied about the existence or extent of this relationship when Mulkey was confronted about it, and lied under oath during a county grievance hearing, POST documents state.
Katrina Bolger, paralegal for the POST Council, wrote in a March 3 memo that it appeared Mulkey did have a sexual relationship with a Beaverhead County dispatcher and that more information would be needed to determine if the relationship was carried out while Mulkey was on duty.
Bolger also noted that the allegations that Mulkey lied about the reported relationship relies on the credibility of Dillon Police Chief Don Guiberson, who allegedly confronted Mulkey about the sexual relationship, as has been previously reported.
Montana POST Council Executive Director Perry Johnson informed Mulkey in a letter from early April of the misconduct allegations made against him — and that there may be grounds for sanction, suspension or revocation of his POST certification, if those allegations were proved.
POST is semi-judicial board within the Montana Department of Justice that oversees the certification and training of all public safety officers in Montana, and Johnson's letter stated that these sanctions might impact Mulkey’s future employability as a public safety officer in Montana or another state.
Johnson’s letter also included more details on the sexual misconduct allegations against Mulkey, including that the alleged relationship occurred between 2012 and 2015 and that he allegedly sent and received sexually explicit text and media messages to and from his duty phone during the same time period.
The letter noted that Mulkey had until May 15 of this year to contest these four allegations — or else voluntarily surrender his POST certification.
The letter also sought permission from Mulkey for POST to access to his personnel file so officials could continue their investigation into Mulkey’s alleged misconduct.
Two days before the May 15 deadline, POST officials received Mulkey’s response, which gave the council permission to view his file. He also questioned the timing and motives of the allegations made against him.
“It wasn’t until I was at odds with the County Attorney and the new Sheriff that allegations started surfacing,” Mulkey wrote.
Mulkey went on to allege that Beaverhead County Attorney Jed Fitch was using his position for political purposes in an attempt to discredit Mulkey, and said that he chose to retire because he was told that the new administration’s goal was to have him arrested or fired.
“After almost twenty-one years of unblemished duty to the community, I felt that it was not in my best interest to continue my employment,” Mulkey wrote to the POST Council.
Mulkey's letter also claims that Craft didn't contact him until 17 days after becoming Sheriff. When he asked Craft about the delay, Mulkey alleged that the Sheriff implied it had to do with his lack of support for his run for office.
In response to the allegations made against him, Mulkey acknowledged that he was involved in a consensual relationship with a dispatcher between 2012 and 2014 but that he never engaged in sexual acts with her while on duty.
Mulkey also wrote that he does not believe he used his work phone to send or receive sexually explicit messages to and from the dispatcher.
He wrote that he had a personal cell phone at the time and “would not have had a reason to engage in a personal conversation and [sic] not used my personal phone.” He also wrote that, “due to the fact that this allegation is from seven years ago, it is almost impossible for me to answer this question. To the best of my recollection I would have to say no.”
Mulkey also wrote that he and Dillon Police Chief Don Guiberson have had numerous personal conversations about women they have had relationships with over the past 20 years and that the conversation that was described as a "confrontation" was “so unremarkable that I barely remember the conversation taking place."
Mulkey explained that, for this reason, he answered "no" when asked if he was ever confronted about his relationship with the dispatcher.
At the last POST Council status hearing about Mulkey’s case in late May, officials said that the investigation into Mulkey would continue. Since that time, POST officials have continued to investigate, according to POST paralegal Katrina Bolger.
Craft said Tuesday afternoon that he had no comment at this time due to the fact that investigation is ongoing. Fitch could not be immediately reached for comment.