Investigation into Benton County sheriff witness tampering reopened

Benton County

RICHLAND, Wash. (AP) — The embattled Benton County sheriff in eastern Washington is under criminal investigation once again for allegedly forcing his estranged wife to recant her statements of abuse.

The investigation by the Washington State Patrol comes 18 months after charges against Sheriff Jerry Hatcher were dropped because detectives needed more time.

Sgt. Darren Wright in the state patrol’s main office in Olympia told the Tri-City Herald Wednesday that the patrol is “doing some follow-up investigation on the original witness tampering case.”

Wright said he couldn’t provide any further details of the investigation or comment on its status.

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Retired sheriff’s Commander Steve Caughey also confirmed to the newspaper that the investigation has been reopened. Caughey said he was interviewed Wednesday about his former boss’ alleged criminal activity involving Monica Hatcher.

Investigators also met with several other witnesses employed by the Benton County Sheriff’s Office.

Hatcher, 57, is also facing a recall effort for alleged retaliatory acts involving employees, intimidation, abuse of discretion, and tampering with and destruction of evidence.

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Washington Fraternal Order of Police President Marco Monteblanco issued the following statement on Thursday morning:

“The Washington State Fraternal Order of Police applauds the Washington State Patrol for renewing its criminal investigation into the actions of Benton County Sheriff Jerry Hatcher. The people of Benton County and the Benton County Sheriff’s Guild all benefit from a thorough investigation of this incident and the actions of the county’s top law enforcement official,” said WAFOP President Marco Monteblanco.

“Integrity is a vital part of who we are in our role as peace officers. It is critical that this investigation move forward and that all of the facts in this case come to light. Only through a fair and open process can we accomplish our shared goals of public safety and maintain the trust of the communities we serve.”

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