3/12/2008 3:00:00 PM
Health Department administrator says charges a result of ‘a difference of opinion’
Madison Courier Staff Writer
A “difference of opinion” has led to a grand jury indictment of a prominent figure in Jefferson County.
Ralph Armand, 73, county health department administrator and former Madison police chief and Jefferson County sheriff, was indicted Monday on two criminal charges: obstruction of justice, a class D felony, and false informing, a class B misdemeanor.
According to information filed in Jefferson Circuit Court on Tuesday, Armand gave false information to an Indiana State trooper about whether Armand entered a barn under construction at 4577 E. Bloody Run Road with or without permission. The indictment alleges that Armand made statements to mislead Trooper Michael Kreinhop. Deputy Prosecutor D.J. Mote said the barn belongs to Tony Ardizzone.
An initial hearing on the charges scheduled for this morning was waived. Soon afterward, Armand was booked into the Jefferson County Jail and released on his own recognizance, which means he did not have to post bail. A pretrial hearing is scheduled for 1 p.m. May 21 and a jury trial is scheduled for 9 a.m. Aug. 19.
Armand’s attorney George Leininger, who was filling in for Mark Wynn, Armand’s main defense attorney, said the indictment stems from an inspection of a barn where a residence was being constructed. Armand and Michael New, chief environmental specialist with the health department, were inspecting the building when police were called, Leininger said.
Leininger said there were no trespassing charges filed against Armand because he had legal authority to inspect the premises. The controversy, Leininger said, is what Armand said in his interview with the Indiana State Police.
I’ve known Ralph Armand for over 35 years,” Leininger said. “I’ve always known him to be an honorable man, and I really believe he’ll be exonerated.
Armand declined to comment on the case in detail but said he’d been in law enforcement for 24 years and an administrator with the health department for 25 years and had never seen anything like this before.
I have not committed a crime of any kind,” he said in a telephone interview Tuesday night. “It’s a difference of opinion on a situation that took place where one person had one opinion, and I had a different opinion.
County Board of Commissioners President Tom Pietrykowski declined comment, saying he did not want to hurt Armand’s case.
We did discuss it in executive session, but I really can’t say anything, he said.
Pietrykowski said he was not aware of any changes at the health department in regard to Armand’s position.
Armand has a long history of serving Jefferson County. He was employed at the Madison Police Department for 20 years, serving eight years as chief. Armand then served as sheriff for four years. He ran again in 2002 but was defeated in the Republican primary.