Arrest of chief’s son not connected to job, says Paine
Last week's arrest of Baldwin Police Chief Steve Butell's son on alleged burglary and theft charges is in no way a reflection on the chief's job performance, according to City Administrator Larry Paine.
Sean Butell, 22, was arrested March 11 by Douglas County Sheriff's officers on one count of burglary, one count of felony theft and two counts of misdemeanor theft. The charges result from the alleged burglary or theft from three Baldwin businesses Heritage Tractor, Baldwin Grain Co. and Icon Builders.
It was the second time Sean Butell was arrested for alleged thefts from Heritage. Two years ago he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor theft and was placed on probation for a year. Also arrested was John Carpenter, 20, also of Baldwin. Their first court appearance on the charges is scheduled for March 27.
Paine said the investigation and arrest have no bearing on the chief.
"There are no connections between the arrest of Steve's son and the performance of him as police chief," Paine said. "I really empathize with Steve in his role as a father and how his son is behaving.
"My heart goes out to the man," he said. "It has to be tough on him because he is police chief. But in no way is his job as police chief in question."
Chief Butell has declined to comment. The investigation was started by the Baldwin Police Department after reports of thefts from the businesses.
"Yes, it was started by Baldwin police," said Paine. "As soon as Sean's name came up, Steve told Colleen (Sgt. Colleen Larson) to transfer it to Douglas County."
Paine also said the rumor that Baldwin police refused to serve the arrest warrants was untrue.
"No, that didn't happen," he said. "That was handled through the sheriff's office."
Ken Wagner, owner of Heritage Tractor and a city councilman, expressed his disappointment in how the situation turned out. Wagner said he confronted Sean Butell and Carpenter about two months ago after he was told they were involved with thefts from his business. He said he told them they were not welcome on his property and if they were on the property they would be arrested for trespassing.
"I really don't know what the evidence is that brought the arrests," said Wagner. "It is interesting that the arrests were made after I confronted them two months or so ago.
"I'm disappointed that Sean Butell has been implicated in additional thefts out here," he said. "I thought we had an agreement that he would not be on the property again and that he would not be involved in those types of activities again."
But Wagner's disappointment didn't stop there.
"Then I'm disappointed that numerous people in the community told me he was stealing things out here again and it was disappointing that the police department couldn't tell me that or do anything about it," Wagner said. "A person is innocent until proven guilty, but it appears that he was out here again involved in those activities."