An Indianapolis Metropolitan Police lieutenant says Marion County Sheriff Frank Anderson falsely accused him of making a racist death threat, arranged his suspension for 18 months and tried to prosecute him.I don't know if Mr. Heffner's allegations are true, but speaking from my experience with Sheriff Anderson, they probably are. Like Mr. Heffner, the Sheriff has not liked my speaking out about his performance in office. Like Heffner, Sheriff Anderson also responded to my criticism by trying to get me investigated. Like with Heffner, Sheriff Anderson has played the race card, making up a phony allegation involving me. Sheriff Anderson's allegation did get a big laugh at the African-American owned law firm where I have worked for years.
Chris Heffner said the sheriff retaliated against him because he criticized the 2007 merger between IMPD and the sheriff's department.
Heffner, a 21-year law enforcement veteran who was one-time supporter of Anderson, contends in a federal lawsuit that Anderson, the city of Indianapolis and IMPD Lt. Scott Robinett violated his First and Fourth amendment rights.
He is seeking undisclosed monetary compensation for overtime pay and pension benefits lost during his paid suspension and $17,200 in lawyers' fees.
The lawsuit contends Anderson was displeased with Heffner's objections to the merger and sent word through underlings in 2006 that Heffner should "keep his mouth shut."
At the same time, Anderson returned $3,000 Heffner had contributed to Anderson's re-election fund. Later that month, Dec. 22, 2006, someone called 911 and said "I'm going to kill that (racial epithet) Frank Anderson," according to the lawsuit.
Eight months later the FBI questioned Heffner about the call, which Heffner contends he knew nothing about, and Robinett told him he was suspended. Heffner contends that the FBI cleared him of making the call, that he passed voice comparisons exams and that several witnesses in the police department refused to say the voice sounded like his.
He said Anderson pressed the Marion County prosecutor's office and the U.S. Attorney's office to open investigations. A federal grand jury was seated to hear the charges but did not return an indictment when its term ended on April 15, 2009.
IMPD Chief Michael Spears asked Heffner to return to work on March 6.
In a written statement, Anderson said the "complaint is groundless."
"In December 2006, Sheriff Frank Anderson was the victim of a malicious death threat," reads the statement. "The death threat was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and handled by the U. S. Attorney's Office. Sheriff Anderson has the utmost respect for the FBI and trust that the matter was handled in accord with standard policy and procedure. Thus, Sheriff Anderson has full faith and confidence that he will be fully exonerated in this matter."
A spokesman for the IMPD said the department could not comment on a pending lawsuit.
If Sheriff Anderson can't handle the public criticism that comes with his job, he needs to find a new line of work. His attempts to intimidate his critics into silence is, frankly, bush league stuff.
It will be interesting to see if Sheriff Anderson once illegally raids the inmate commissary funds to pay his private law firm and political contributor Frost Brown (the former Locke Reynolds) to defend himself in this lawsuit. He has already taken $4 million in commissary funds to pay the law firm and his personal attorney Kevin Murray even though Indiana law clearly does not allow commissary funds to be used for that purpose. Of course though, Sheriff Anderson has always considered himself above the law. With the events of the past week though, Sheriff Anderson might want to reconsider that philosophy.