Crime Watch 8

Martinsville police chief denies charges of theft, official misconduct

MARTINSVILLE, Ind. (WISH) — The city’s police chief on Thursday denied charges of theft and official misconduct made by Indiana State Police.

Matthew D. Long, through his attorney, said he denied the allegations. Court documents released Thursday showed Long manipulated a system that records sick leave, adding more to his own. He did not use the added sick leave and later took payment for the unused sick leave. 

Dara Jackson, the chief’s cousin who owns a local bookstore, said the allegations stem from when Long was battling melanoma, a form of skin cancer, and had several surgeries.

“It had metastasized. It was not just skin cancer; it had gotten into his lymph nodes,” said Jackson. “I know that he is a good man. I know that he’s willing to help out anybody who needs help. I know he’s a good father and a good husband.”

According to court records, state police said in 2016 and 2017, Long added 142 hours to his sick bank, which allowed him to be paid for additional accrued sick days. Long allegedly received $1,530. 

State Police Sgt. Curt Durnil said Thursday, “It’s very sad for all of us. Chief Long is well-respected, liked individual in Morgan County. This type of situation looks bad for all law enforcement.” 

An appointed special judge from Monroe County signed the arrest warrant Wednesday, the state police release said. 

“In late January of this year, the Indiana State Police along with the Indiana State Board of Accounts were asked by the Morgan County Prosecutor’s Office to investigate criminal allegations against Long. The findings of that investigation were taken to a special prosecutor and probable cause was found for the issuance of a warrant for the arrest of Long,” the release said.

The release said Long turned himself in to detectives on Wednesday afternoon at the Morgan County Jail, where he bonded out to face impending court appearances.

John Kautzman, Long’s attorney, issued a statement Thursday afternoon: 

“My client denies these allegations. At no time did Chief Long intentionally engage in any criminal or knowingly improper conduct. We look forward to a thorough review of the true facts of this case.” 

Mayor Shannon Kohl in January appointed Roger Wiltermood as interim chief for the Martinsville Police Department after Long was put on paid administrative leave pending an investigation. 

The mayor has not indicated whether Long remains on paid administrative leave. 

Kohl issued a statement Thursday afternoon:

“I recently learned that Chief Matt Long turned himself in to authorities because of pending charges for theft and official misconduct. We believe in strong leadership in Martinsville and expect our leaders to lead by example. If these allegations prove true, this is a failure of leadership and trust. While I am deeply saddened to learn of these charges against someone I initially believed to be a great leader for our police department, my administration will fully cooperate with prosecutors as this matter unfolds and will support making the people of Martinsville whole. Further, this matter has brought to light the ways we can improve our internal processes, which is the action we are currently taking. We can only move forward to continue to strive for a better Martinsville.”

Long has an initial court hearing scheduled for March 15, but his attorney has asked for the initial hearing to be waived. The Morgan County prosecutor said waiving the initial hearing would be at the judge’s discretion, but it would be unlikely for a felony case.

Monroe Circuit Court Judge Valeri Haughton was appointed to hear the case in Morgan Superior Court 1.