Grand jury indicts former second in command of Bullitt County Sheriff's Department

LOUISVILLE, Ky., (WDRB) – A Bullitt County grand jury Wednesday indicted former Chief Sheriff’s Deputy John Cottrell, who was second in command of the department, on felony forgery charges.

The indictment alleges that in June 2014 and March 2015, Cottrell was in possession of fake Bullitt County Sheriff's Office identification badges with the names Natasha Kamari and Natasha Parrish. He is charged with two counts of criminal possession of a forged instrument.

Attorney Garry Adams, who represents Cottrell, issued this statement, "I cannot comment at this time about the merits of this indictment as I do not have enough information to know what is being alleged off of the face of the indictment itself.  As for the timing, it appears suspicious and retaliatory for my client's involvement in the criminal investigation of the Sheriff as well as a wrongful termination whistleblower lawsuit he has already filed against the department.  The same department that had him indicted today."

Cottrell was fired in October for for being “absent without leave,” according to a termination letter written by former Sheriff David Greenwell.

The termination letter does not specify how much time Cottrell missed. It alleges Cottrell violated the department’s conduct standards – “absence from duty.”

The department has said that Cottrell was also under investigation for allegedly forging a deputy identification badge for his girlfriend in June 2014. 

The girlfriend allegedly worked off duty at several places using the badge, including in a secured area at Louisville International Airport, according to a synopsis of the investigation, obtained under the Kentucky Open Records Act. The businesses were led to believe the woman was a deputy, according to records. The woman was never hired by the department. She has not been charged. 

Earlier this year, Cottrell told WDRB that the allegations were "a joke. They are trying to muddy the waters to what the actual problem is and that's them."

Cottrell had been with the sheriff’s department since January 2011. Before that, he worked for the Pioneer Village Police Department, according to LinkedIn.

Among other high profile cases, Cottrell investigated former Shepherdsville Mayor Scott Ellis for allegedly using his elected position to get sexual favors from a woman on parole. That case was eventually dismissed.  

Cottrell has filed a whistleblower lawsuit claiming he was fired after revealing that Greenwell was involved in criminal activity.

In the suit, Cottrell claims he was wrongfully terminated Oct. 5 while out on medical leave by Greenwell as retaliation for taking part in a criminal investigation against the sheriff.

Cottrell claims he and two subordinates in the department investigated Greenwell and “revealed that the Sheriff is involved in serious criminal activity.”

Greenwell resigned February 28, according to a Facebook post from his department on Friday.

In his handwritten resignation letter, Greenwell says his last day will be Tuesday and he's retiring Wednesday. He signed the letter, "P.S. Jesus knows!"

Over the last two years, Cottrell said he reported alleged mismanagement, waste, fraud, abuse of authority and illegal activity by Greenwell, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit did not provide details on the alleged criminal activity.

“Over the last year, the Sheriff has acted paranoid and angry because of his apparent suspicions of being investigated by his own department,” the suit claims.

Capt. Mike Halbleib and Det. Tim Murphy, who work in the department’s drug task force, assisted in the investigation of Greenwell, according to the suit.

Cottrell alleges that he has had concerns for himself and the other men investigating Greenwell, claiming the sheriff had discussed disbanding the task force and firing Halbleib and Murphy.

According to the lawsuit, Cottrell heard he was terminated “because he was being investigated for using his taser on his girlfriend.”

The lawsuit is seeking a jury trial and unspecified monetary damages.

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