Attorneys question wrong witness in deputy discipline case

Kevin Sampier

After nearly an hour of being grilled by attorneys during suspended Deputy Jeff Bass' disciplinary hearing, Chief Deputy Dick Ganschow was allowed to leave when attorneys realized they'd been questioning the wrong man.

Ganschow was questioned Thursday before the Sheriff's Merit Commission by Bass' attorney Brian Addy and Sheriff Bob Huston's attorney, Thomas McGuire.

Addy and McGuire asked Ganschow about a transcript of a December 2006 interview they believed Ganschow conducted with Bass regarding Bass' allegedly inappropriate activity while on duty.

But it turned out Ganschow didn't conduct the interview, Huston did, making the hour-long line of questioning useless and causing it to be removed from the record.

"Unfortunately, we have spent a fairly significant time on that transcript and that interview," said Assistant Tazewell County State's Attorney Mike Holly, who is serving as legal counsel for the commission.

McGuire, believing he had found discrepancies in Ganschow's testimony, repeatedly asked if Ganschow would like to change his story and asked Ganschow if his testimony conflicted.

"Not that I'm aware of," said Ganschow, who declined the offers to reverse his prior statements.

Moments later, Addy and commission members realized it wasn't Ganschow asking the questions on the transcript.

Huston has accused Bass of neglecting his patrol duties, retaliation, intimidation, associating with a criminal and other issues.

Bass, a 17-year veteran, has been suspended without pay since Feb. 8, 2007.

A global positioning device placed on his squad car between September 2005 and April 2006 allegedly showed Bass was doing personal business while on the clock.

The commission will consider evidence from both sides and decide what, if any, disciplinary action will be taken against Bass. Huston has requested Bass be terminated.

Addy also called Pekin Daily Times columnist Michael Noyes to the stand. Addy had him testify about a column that quoted Huston saying he wished he would have had more information earlier about Bass so progressive discipline could have been tried.

Huston denied making the statement, and McGuire said he would subpoena Noyes' notes and re-call him as his own witness.

Noyes said the quote was accurate.

After the hearing, Huston and McGuire declined to elaborate on what they felt was inaccurate about the quote and said they plan to address it later.

Kevin Sampier can be reached at (309) 346-5300