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Washington County Circuit Clerk Sarah Milligan has officially resigned her position as a condition of a pre-trial diversion motion filed in Superior Court yesterday afternoon. 

Milligan was arrested and charged after a traffic stop three days after Christmas 2019. 

She had been released and continued to work as county clerk until yesterday. 

Special Judge John Evans from Harrison County approved the motion to withhold prosecution against Milligan in exchange for her agreeing to resign her office as well as comply with several other conditions set out by Special Prosecuting Attorney Jeremy Mull. 

Milligan was arrested on Friday, Dec. 28 after a traffic stop in Salem and jailed on five charges, including illegal possession of a legend drug. 

Washington County Clerk Sarah Milligan worked to make sure every election was safe. Here she poses with Tanner Hayes, who works with the voting machine company Harp Enterprises. He was on site in May to make sure everything ran smoothly.

She entered a not-guilty plea at her first court appearance in late January. Milligan’s attorney Jennifer Lukemeyer entered a not-guilty plea on all charges. 

A trial was initially set for June 4, but had been postponed and a pre-trial hearing was set for June 14 and recently moved to January 2020. 

Mull filed the pretrial diversion agreement on June 17 and it was filed in Superior Court on June 18. 

Milligan’s final action as county clerk was to appoint her first deputy clerk Lindsey Jackson to serve as an interim clerk until the local Republican Party holds a caucus. 

Jackson took over the office at 4p on Friday, June 14. 

According to Matthew R. Kochevar, Co-General Counsel of the Indiana Election Division, the filling of an office vacancy when a person resigns from office is handled under IC 3-13-11.

Along with other conditions of the plea agreement, Mull demanded Milligan resign her position, effective on the filing of the paperwork, which came Monday, June 17. 

Her term of office ended officially with the filing of the paperwork. 

Milligan, a Republican newcomer, was elected as county clerk in the Fall 2016 election, defeating incumbent Democrat Rita Martin. 

Milligan took office in January 2017 and made many changes to the office, including digitizing records, increasing the amount of pre-voting methods available to voters and signing up voters during the county fair and at local schools. 

DRIVING CITATION

On Tuesday afternoon, Milligan was driving on SR 56 East and was pulled over by the Washington County Sheriff’s Department. 

Her license had been suspended after her arrest, and Milligan thought driving privileges would be reinstated as soon as the Motion was filed (see Pre-Trial Diversion agreement below). 

According to Washington County Sheriff’s Deputy Matt Hein, she was pulled over for failure to signal properly.

At that time, Hein cited her for driving while suspended. 

It is not known if this will be considered a violation of her agreement, which could start the legal prosecution over again. 

WSLM has attempted to reach Mull by email and phone but hasn’t received a response. 

CAUCUS

The Washington County Republican Party, led by Tara Coats Hunt, will need to hold a caucus in the next 30 days to replace Milligan and name a permanent clerk to serve until next year’s election. 

The person in the position will have the opportunity to run for the party nomination in May 2020 and then seek election against a Democrat candidate during the November 2020 election. 

“Once a local office holder resigns from office by submitting their letter of resignation to the circuit court clerk under IC 5-8-3.5, the circuit court clerk is required to notify the county party chair that the officeholder was affiliated with on the ballot when elected (in this case,  the Republic Party) within 72 hours after the resignation letter is filed,” noted Kochevar.

“Once notice is given the county party has 30 days from the date of the vacancy (the day the officeholder resigned) to fill the vacancy. (IC 3-13-11-3),” Kochevar wrote in an email.

Kochevar said the vacancy is filled by a caucus of precinct committeepersons representing the precincts that make up the election district. (IC 3-13-11-3 and 3-13-11-5)

“The only way that a county party chair can fill a vacancy by direct appointment is if the election district where the vacancy occurred there is less than two (2) eligible precinct committeepersons to participate in a caucus (so 1 or 0 eligible PCs). (IC 3-13-1-5(c))

THE PRETRIAL DIVERSION AGREEMENT

Here is a copy of the pre-trial diversion agreement filed with the Washington County Superior Court.

 

The defendant (Milligan) affirms under the penalty for perjury and agrees to the following:

1. The defendant shall pay the User’s Fee and Court Costs of $675.00 in full and in advance by certified check, cashiers check, or money order, and submit to the Washington County Clerk‘s Office.

2. The Diversion period, in this case, shall last until January 1, 2020, at which time the defendant may file, and the Court may grant, motion to dismiss this cause.

3. The defendant agrees not to commit any criminal offense in any jurisdiction during the Diversion period of this agreement, and shall immediately notify (within 72 hours of arrest or citation) the Clark County Pretrial Diversion Program Coordinator in writing of any criminal charges filed against her.

4. The defendant agrees that she will promptly notify (within days) the Clark County Pretrial Diversion Program Coordinator in writing of any change in name, address, or telephone number.

5. The defendant acknowledges that failure to comply with any part of this agreement shall result in the Prosecuting Attorney re-docketing or refiling of this case with the Court and the resumption of prosecution on the original charges filed. In such a case, no advance notice to the defendant shall be required, and all fees paid to the participants in the Pretrial Diversion Program will be forfeited.

6. The defendant understands that she is guaranteed the right to speedy trial before an impartial jury; to confront and cross-examine the witnesses against him [her]; to use the power and process of the Court to compel the production of any
evidence, including the attendance of any witnesses in his favor; to have the assistance of counsel for his defense at all stages of the proceedings, to be provided at public expense if he is indigent; and to require the State of Indiana to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt at trial in which he is presumed
innocent and may not be compelled to testify, or in any way incriminate himself. The defendant further understands that by entering this agreement, such rights are waived. In the event prosecution is resumed for any reason, all delays from
the time of this agreement to the resumption of prosecution shall be attributable to the defendant.

7. The defendant shall not use alcohol to excess and shall not use controlled substances unless prescribed by a physician, with the understanding that the defendant shall submit to a breath, blood or urine test, without notice and immediately upon the request of the Pretrial Diversion Coordinator, with the test completed at defendant’s expense.

8. The defendant shall receive drug and alcohol assessment, and comply with any treatment recommendations contained therein. If the defendant has already received such an assessment subsequent to her arrest in this cause, she shall continue complying with a|| treatment recommendations during the time that the terms of this agreement are in effect. A copy of this assessment and any recommendations, along with regular proof of compliance, shall be provided to the Clark County Prosecutor promptly upon his request.

9. The defendant shall work faithfully at suitable employment or make a good faith effort to find employment if necessary, or faithfully pursue a course of study or vocational training that will assist in finding suitable employment.

10. The defendant shall support his/her legal dependents and meet all other family responsibilities.

11. The defendant agrees to forfeit to the investigating law enforcement agency all evidence seized in connection with the investigation. This includes, but is not limited to: paraphernalia, deadly weapons, scales, and cash. Any cash seized shall be forfeited to the governmental entity which oversees the law enforcement agency involved in the seizure, for the purpose of reimbursement of law enforcement costs involved in the investigation. Any amount of cash seized in excess of the law enforcement costs shall be forfeited to the Common School
Fund.

12. The defendant’s Indiana driver’s license suspension shall end immediately upon the filing of this agreement.

13. A  specific condition of this agreement requires that the Defendant resigns from her position as the Washington County Clerk of Court upon the filing of this agreement with the Court. The defendant stipulates that the filing of this agreement legally acts as the resignation of this position and that her term of office
shall end immediately upon the filing of this agreement.

ORIGINAL CHARGES

According to a probable cause affidavit filed in the December arrest of Milligan, Indiana State Police found only one and a half prescription pills in her purse after her arrest due to a traffic stop. 

There was no alcohol or other drugs found in the vehicle or on her person. 

Shortly after her arrest, Milligan was charged with the following:

  • Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated Endangering a Person
  • Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated
  • Possession of a Controlled Substance
  • Possession of a Controlled Substance
  • Unlawful Possession or Use of a Legend Drug knowingly possess or use X, a Legend Drug
  • Unlawful Possession or Use of a Legend Drug knowingly possess or use X, a Legend Drug
 

Her bond was set at $4300 full cash and she was released on December 29 at 6:21p. 

The pills were taken by police to a local pharmacy where they were identified as generic forms of Adderall and Suboxone, both prescription drugs. Operating a Vehicle With a Controlled Substance In Her Body and two counts of Possession of a Schedule I-IV Controlled Substance, according to State Police Sgt. Carey Huls. 

Huls said it is a violation of Indiana law to be in possession of a controlled substance without a valid prescription or to possess the substance without it being in the properly labeled container it was prescribed in.

Police did not say if the pills were prescribed to Milligan or another family member but Huls did note that because it is a controlled substance, it wouldn’t matter if they belonged to anyone else in the family. 

Indiana State Police Trooper Justin Smith initially stopped Milligan on Friday, Dec. 28 shortly after 5p when he observed her driving on South Jackson Street and pulling into the Marathon gas station.  She was driving a 1998 Lincoln Town Car with temporary tags, which were ripped and not readable. 

Huls said all license plates must be securely fastened in a horizontal position to the vehicle and free from foreign materials and in a condition that is clearly legible per Indiana law.

“Anything that would prevent an officer from being able to read the number on the plate could result in an officer stopping an individual to check the legitimacy of a registration,” Huls wrote in a message.

Smith watched Milligan leave the gas station and observed her speeding up South Jackson Street (he said she was driving 50 mph in a 40 mph posted zone) and watched her pull into a parking lot at 1300 South Jackson Street (the former O’Sully’s package store). 

(In an original story reported by WSLM, State Police informed Milligan was stopped on Main Street. The actual report notes she was stopped on South Jackson Street).

After administering three field sobriety tests, Smith said Milligan failed all three and he asked her for consent for a blood test. 

According to Smith’s report, Milligan verbally and immediately consented to a blood test and was handcuffed and taken to St. Vincent Salem hospital where blood was drawn at approximately 5:20p.

The results of that test, which was sent to the Indiana State Police Post at Sellersburg, have not been returned.

Milligan was then taken to the Washington County Detention Center while Smith, ISP Trooper Brett Walters and Salem Police Officer Ally Garloch searched Milligan’s vehicle. 

Officers located a black purse and inside they found a half tablet colored pink and imprinted with “N8” and a full tablet colored pink and imprinted with “2 0” on one side and “b 973” on the other side.

The police took the two pills to CVS pharmacy in Salem and had pharmacist Jared Cleek identify them as Generic Adderall 20mg and a generic form of Suboxone. 

Police did not identify which was the half pill and which was a whole pill. 

They were a schedule 3 and 4 controlled substance. 

Washington County Prosecuting Attorney Dustin Houchin said, “It is illegal to possess controlled substances without a valid prescription.”

“There are two ways a person can be charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated,” said Houchin. “One is if the officer observes signs of intoxication, which is the initial charge in this case. The second way is to operate a vehicle with drugs in your system. We determine what drugs are in a person’s system, in general, by a blood test sent to the Indiana Department of Toxicology. Those results usually take a few weeks to obtain.”

Trooper Smith said in his report that he observed Milligan with “glassy and bloodshot eyes” and “unable to maintain focus, almost as though she was looking past me.”

Trooper Smith said he asked her if she was healthy, and she replied yes. Smith asked if Milligan wore contacts and she replied, no. 

Smith also said Milligan was slurring her speech and having trouble forming words. 

When questioned about the ripped license plate, Milligan told police that she thought her husband had replaced it with the proper plate earlier in the day. 

“I returned to her vehicle and asked her if she had been drinking earlier in the day or if she was on any medication that she had been prescribed,” wrote Smith in his report. “The subject . . . proceeded to break down sobbing. I asked the subject to step out of the vehicle and she refused, stating that she would call her defense attorney and proceeded to dial her phone.”

Smith said he called for backup which included Salem officers Nigel Smith and Ally Garloch. 

At this point, Salem officer Smith said he had stopped Milligan the previous night regarding her ripped license tag and instructed her not to drive again. She was given a warning. 

The officers helped Milligan out of the vehicle and Trooper Smith proceeded to administer the sobriety tests. 

Smith said the first test was the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test. The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test, or the HGN evaluation, is a field sobriety test that is part of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Standardized Field Sobriety Tests.

Nystagmus is an involuntary jerking of the eye that can be caused by central nervous system depressants.

“I positioned the subject so that she faced the east, away from the setting sun and away from the flashing lights of the police vehicles present,” noted Smith. “I held my finger approximately 12-15 inches in front of her nose, with the tip slightly above eye level. I first checked her eyes for the same pupil sizes, which they were the same size. I observed no resting nystagmus. I also checked that the eyes tracked. The eyes tracked together. I checked her left and right eyes for the lack of smooth pursuit. The suspect had a lack of smooth pursuit in the left and right eyes.”

Smith said he checked her eyes for distinct and sustained nystagmus at maximum deviation.

“The suspect had distinct nystagmus at maximum deviation,” he noted in the report. “in the left and right eyes. I next checked her for onset of nystagmus prior to 45 degrees. The suspect had the onset of nystagmus prior to 45 degrees in the left and right eyes. I next checked for vertical nystagmus. The suspect had vertical nystagmus which could indicate a high blood alcohol content level or the presence of drugs in her system.”

Smith said she exhibited six clues during the test, thus failing the test. 

The next test was the Walk and Turn test. 

“I instructed her to stand with her right foot on the line and her left foot in front of it,” wrote Smith. “I instructed her to keep her arms to her side and not to begin until told to do so. I explained the rest of the test to the suspect at this time, during which she could not keep her balance, swayed from side to side. During the Walking Stage of the test, the suspect missed her heel to toe on steps 4, 5 and 6 of the first nine steps taken. She missed her heel to toe steps 3, 5 and 8 on the second nine steps taken. The suspect, while walking an imaginary straight line, proceeded to curve on every step taken.”

Smith noted Milligan did not turn as instructed. 

“The eight clues for the test are – can’t balance during instructions, starts too soon, stops while walking, doesn’t touch heel-to-toe, steps off line, uses arms to balance, loses balance on turn or turns incorrectly, and takes the wrong number of steps. The subject fails the test if they step off the line three or more times, is in danger of falling or cannot do the test,” noted Smith. 

He said she exhibited half the clues and failed the test. 

The final test given was the One Leg Stand test.

“I instructed her to stand with her feet together and her arms to her sides,” wrote Smith. “I instructed her to stand on one leg with the other leg out in front of her, her toes pointed and her foot approximately six inches off the ground. I instructed her to count one-thousand-one, one-thousand-two….and so forth while looking at her foot until instructed to stop.”

During the test, Smith said Milligan raised her arms for balance and hopped on time, raising her arms while doing so. Smith noted the clues are – sways while balancing, uses arms to balance, hops and puts foot down.

According to Smith, Milligan exhibited three clues and failed the test. 

Smith said the vehicle was towed and all evidence collected and transported to the post where it was entered into evidence and stored for safe keeping. 

On Saturday, Dec. 29, Smith said he was going to contact a Washington County Commissioner for an interview and apply for a search warrant to search Milligan’s workspace in the Washington County Justice Center. 

There was never any information released on what was or wasn’t found in Milligan’s office.

. A special judge was assigned in the case. John Evans from Harrison County will preside.