Investigation details Dunn County Sheriff candidate’s misconduct

Dunn County Sheriff candidate and former Dunn County Sheriff’s Deputy Kenny LaRocque allegedly used extensive company time and resources to elicit an extramarital affair last year, according to official reports obtained by the Dunn County Herald.

Kenny LaRocque
Kenny LaRocque

 

By Bryce Martin

N.D. Group Editor

Dunn County Sheriff candidate and former Dunn County Sheriff’s Deputy Kenny LaRocque allegedly used extensive company time and resources to elicit an extramarital affair last year, according to official reports obtained by the Dunn County Herald.

Records of nearly 2,000 text messages, many of which were explicit in nature, sent between LaRocque and a Bismarck female last year were contained in a June 6 investigation conducted by the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

The BCI began an investigation into LaRocque’s alleged activities at the request of Dunn County Sheriff Clay Coker, after he received an email from a woman suggesting LaRocque may have committed some type of illegal or wrongful activity while on duty.

LaRocque was terminated from his position as deputy seven months earlier, in November 2013, for unrelated issues, according to his termination paperwork, which is public record. LaRocque continually acted in an insubordinate manner and disobeyed Coker’s directives, which led to his dismissal, as indicated by the records.

The alleged incident regarding overuse of LaRocque’s department cell phone, which purportedly occurred over a seven-month span beginning in early 2013, was investigated and the information was forwarded to Dunn County Assistant State’s Attorney Pat Merriman for his review for criminal charges. He wrote a legal memo detailing his conclusions.

In his memo, Merriman wrote that there was “absolutely no doubt” that “a large number of [the] communications occurred while LaRocque was on duty, working as a member of the Dunn County Sheriff’s Dept.” He also noted that other deputies’ personal texting on their work phones, during the same time period as the alleged incident, averaged less than 25 per month while LaRocque’s averaged over 900.

The conduct, which would have been grounds for discipline in his employment status, was discovered after he was relieved from his duties.

“I have taken into consideration the grossly disproportionate time that LaRocque spent on this activity (in comparison to other deputies who used their county cell phone for personal use), but, again, I cannot justify having BCI commit scarce resources on this matter given the unlikely result of any criminal charges,” Merriman indicated in the memo.

Merriman closed the file as “no charges filed.”

Calls were made by the Dunn County Herald to two different numbers supplied by LaRocque, over the period of more than a month. Those calls continuously went unanswered and unreturned.

Although LaRocque’s conduct could be classified as an issue of morality, Merriman stated in his weekly newsletter that, just like a comparable case in Belfield regarding a former sheriff deputy, similar conduct is always relevant to public service because it bears on “character and integrity to wear the badge.”

Running in the November elections himself, for Dunn County State’s Attorney, Merriman declined to comment further.

In several of the text messages that LaRocque sent to the woman, he would indicate that he was on duty and wanted to “ditch” his fellow employees. In a specific situation, LaRocque texted the woman that he was training a new deputy and expressed his desire to leave the trainee and be with her.

“The only victims here are the two women, and the people,” Coker said.

The woman involved with LaRocque ended contact with him. After several months, according to Coker, the woman was approached by an individual that “harassed” her because of her previous connections with LaRocque.

She felt unsafe, said Coker, which led her to contact with the sheriff’s department, via email, and detail her relationship with LaRocque. She knew little of his professional life, only that he was a deputy in Dunn County. She had no idea he was running for sheriff, Coker said.


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