Former Chauncey Police Chief Arrested For Corruption, ‘Marijuana Growing Operation’

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A former area police chief was arrested on drug charges, including engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity.

Charles A. Wachenschwanz, 46, was taken into custody on Wednesday after a "clandestine marijuana growing operation" was found inside a residence on Kempton Drive in Chauncey.

Wachenschwanz, a former Chauncey Police Department chief and village marshal, was charged with engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity and cultivation of marijuana. Both are felony charges, and the engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity charge is a first-degree felony, according to a news release from the Athens County Sheriff's Office.

More than 5,000 grams of marijuana were found in the residence and a juvenile child was also present in the home, the criminal complaint, filed Thursday in Athens County Municipal Court, stated.

"The investigation of this and related criminal cases are ongoing and may result in additional charges," said Interim Sheriff Rodney Smith in the news release.

The court complaint detailing the corrupt activity charge said Wachenschwanz is accused of selling Xanax along with cultivating marijuana.

Smith told The Messenger that no other arrests have been made in the case, but multiple persons of interest are being investigated as part of the case.

Wachenschwanz appeared in municipal court on Thursday, where he received a $50,000 bond. As of Monday afternoon, Wachenschwanz remained incarcerated in the Southeastern Ohio Regional Jail.

Athens County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn declined to comment until after an Athens County grand jury reviewed the case for possible charges in common pleas court.

Wachenschwanz was suspended from the police department in 2001 after allegations surfaced that he failed to do follow-up investigations on law enforcement calls. The police department was disbanded that same year in connection with the allegations, according to previous Messenger reporting.

The Ohio Supreme Court also ordered that police log books and time sheets by Wachenschwanz be turned over after a Village Council member requested a decision by the high court.

In September of that year, the Chauncey Village Council dismissed disciplinary charges.

The department was soon reinstated, but then disbanded again in 2008.

Smith said Wachenschwanz served as a special deputy with the sheriff's office during his time as a member of the Chauncey Police Department, but is no longer commissioned with the sheriff's office.

The arrest was part of a joint operation by the Athens County Sheriff's Office, Athens County Prosecutor's Office, Nelsonville Police Department, Ohio University Police Department and the Athens Police Department, the release stated.