Attorney: Patrol commander threatened to shoot lawyer

By Gary Huffenberger and Lora Abernathy

April 21, 2014

The commander at the Wilmington Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol was in jail over the weekend, after being arrested Friday on charges of domestic violence.

Wearing orange-and-white-striped inmate clothes on Monday, Lt. Michael A. Sanders pleaded not guilty from the Clinton County Jail during a two-way, interactive video hearing with the municipal court judge.

Sanders allegedly threatened or caused physical harm to his ex-wife April 15 on a West Locust Street sidewalk in downtown Wilmington. The reported disturbance occurred shortly after the two left attorneys offices after signing some papers, according to the Wilmington Police Department incident report.

The woman reportedly told police that Sanders was upset and “has been following her and driving by her residence.” She added she had not made any complaints about those alleged activities due to Sanders’ job.

In court on Monday, Wilmington attorney Richard L. Federle Jr., whose office is legal counsel for the former wife, said one of the law firm partners witnessed the disturbance.

Federle added, “It’s also my understanding Mr. Sanders threatened to shoot one of my [law firm] partners.”

In response to a later question from Clinton County Municipal Court Judge Chad L. Carey, Federle said he is unaware of any plan to seek a charge against Sanders for the alleged threat toward an attorney.

A victim’s advocate from the local Alternatives to Violence Center said in court that Sanders entered his ex-wife’s home April 15 without permission.

A county jail spokesperson said at about 2:30 p.m. Monday that Sanders was in the process of posting bond to be released from incarceration.

Carey ordered the Alternatives to Violence Center to get the alleged victim to a safe haven immediately, at a location undisclosed to other family members.

Carey also said he wanted the Wilmington Police Department to escort Sanders to his residence upon release from jail and collect all firearms. By court order, Sanders is not to possess any firearm while the case is unresolved.

Sanders has no prior criminal record, said his attorney, Susan M. Zurface.

Sgt. Vincent Shirey, public affairs assistant commander for the Ohio State Highway Patrol in Columbus, said Monday Sanders is on permissive, paid leave.

Sgt. Anthony Lauer has been selected to be in charge of the Wilmington post at this time, Shirey said.

Sanders was named commander of the Wilmington post in August 2013.

He began his career with the patrol in April 1987 as a member of the 116th Academy Class. He earned his commission in September of that year and was assigned to the Georgetown post, where he was selected as Trooper of the Year in 1992.

Since that time, Sanders has been assigned to OSHP posts in Jackson, Lebanon, Cincinnati and Wilmington. He previously served as post commander in Lebanon.

In 1993, he was promoted to the rank of sergeant and transferred to the Jackson post to serve as an assistant post commander. He transferred to the Wilmington post in 1995 and served as assistant commander. After being promoted to the rank of lieutenant in 2006, he was assigned to Lebanon where he served as post commander.

In 2006, Sanders transferred to the Wilmington District’s Licensing and Commercial Standards Division. He returned to the Lebanon post in 2011, and in 2012 he was assigned to the Cincinnati Metro Post.

Originally from Peebles, Sanders earned an associate of applied science degree in law enforcement from Ohio University in 1986. He completed training at Northwestern University’s School of Police Staff and Command in 2003.

Gary Huffenberger or Lora Abernathy can be reached at 937-382-2574, or on Twitter @GHuffenberger or @AbernathyLora.