A Nye County Sheriff’s patrol sergeant pleaded not guilty to multiple drug and theft charges in District Court on Friday.
Sgt. Michael Horn, 38, was arraigned before Judge Kimberly Wanker, who forced the 10-year veteran cop to take a urine test for drugs before she proceeded with the hearing.
After passing his drug test, Horn was advised of the formal charges against him. He faces the possibility of prison time if found guilty.
He is charged with oppression under color of office, a gross misdemeanor, misconduct of a public officer, a category E felony, theft against a person 60 years old or older, a category C felony, theft, a category B felony, possession of a controlled substance, a category E felony, and fraudulent appropriation of property, a category D felony.
He pleaded not guilty as each charge was read aloud.
Horn was arrested on Jan. 25 after fellow officers orchestrated a sting involving prescription medication being stored in the sheriff’s office’s evidence room. Horn was caught stealing medication that had been earmarked for disposal as part of a sheriff’s office community program.
While waiting for Horn to show up for work the day he was arrested, officers learned that the sergeant responded to a call for service at an elderly woman’s home. He allegedly took prescription medication from the woman after telling her, falsely, it had expired. The pills were later discovered in his uniform pocket.
Horn was also charged in a separate incident from October 2012, where he collected a load of pills from the home of a woman diagnosed with cancer. The woman later died. A caregiver had given Horn the woman’s trove of medicine to dispose of. It is alleged in charging documents that the sergeant pilfered morphine pills from the cache of medicine.
When he was arrested, police discovered $23,000 worth of allegedly stolen narcotics in Horn’s patrol car, according to a police report on the matter.
Horn was placed on paid administrative leave after he was given a medical recognizance release from jail. Much to the ire of some co-workers, Horn has been on paid leave ever since his arrest. He entered a rehabilitation program after his arrest, which delayed a pending internal affairs investigation. Now that he is back, an internal affairs investigation should be completed soon.
Sheriff Tony DeMeo said he could not comment on the status of the internal investigation when asked Tuesday. Horn is the son-in-law of Assistant Sheriff Rick Marshall, one of two candidates for sheriff in the upcoming November election.
Horn will likely be placed on unpaid leave after his IA is complete and may be terminated from his job.
Horn’s attorney, Rob Ryan, agreed with prosecutors that any trial would likely last between five and seven days. A calendar call was scheduled for Oct. 23, 2015, with a criminal trial set for Nov. 30 through Dec. 4 and possibly into Dec. 7-8, 2015, if necessary.