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Nick Bertram: Kentucky deputy not cleared of alleged misconduct despite charges being dropped

| February 15, 2013 | Reply
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State police say this building located at 144 Lakeway Dr. in Russell Springs, Ky., was burglarized in January. State police charged Russell County Deputy Sheriff Nick Bertram with burglarizing the business Jan. 4. Russell County Attorney Kevin Shearer dropped the charges against Bertram Feb. 15, but told a local radio station he expected KSP would seek a grand jury indictment. (Photo © 2013 Billy Suratt)

On Jan. 4, 2013 the Kentucky State Police arrested Russell County Deputy Sheriff Nick Bertram and charged him with, among other things, burglarizing this building located at 144 Lakeway Dr. in Russell Springs, Ky., and seen here on Feb. 15. Although the only signs on the property are for a consignment store called Miranda’s Closet, local radio station WJRS-FM reported the building also contains a welding business — Fields Welding — with which Bertram had a business relationship. Russell County Attorney Kevin Shearer dropped the charges against Bertram on Feb. 15, but told WJRS he understands KSP will present the case to an upcoming grand jury. (Photo © 2013 Billy Suratt)

WJRS-FM 104.9 reports the Russell County prosecutor has dropped all charges against Nick Bertram, a South-Central Kentucky deputy sheriff arrested last month on charges of official misconduct, but state police will likely seek a grand jury indictment.

Bertram, 26, was arrested Jan. 4, 2013 and charged with third-degree burglary as well as official misconduct and tampering with physical evidence in relation to an alleged burglary at 144 Lakeway Dr. in Russell Springs, according to the Kentucky State Police.

Bertram was also charged with possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia after state police say they executed a search warrant at the deputy’s home. In addition to “items related to the burglary,” police said they found “a one-step meth lab,” multiple meth lab “overpacks” suspected of being evidence in Russell County Sheriff’s Department investigations and “a large amount of drug paraphernalia.” WJRS reported Jan. 5 that state police also found a marijuana pipe and small amount of marijuana inside a personal grooming kit stored in the deputy’s police cruiser at his home.

WJRS also reported the alleged burglary took place at a business, Fields Welding, with which Bertram had “a private business relationship over parts of this past year.” Lance Fields owns Fields Welding, according to the radio station; state police did not identify the burglary’s complainant and only identified the location by address.

Bertram pleaded not guilty to all charges on Feb. 4 and Russell County Attorney Kevin Shearer dropped all charges at the deputy’s Feb. 15 preliminary hearing in district court. “I had an opportunity to review the cases,” Shearer told WJRS, and “…at this time I could not go forward with them.”

Shearer said it’s his understanding state police will seek an indictment by presenting Bertram’s case to an upcoming Russell County grand jury, possibly Feb. 26. If state police submit their case to the grand jury and if the grand jury returns an indictment, Bertram would then be tried in circuit court.

After the charges were dropped, WJRS read a statement from Bertram’s attorney saying the deputy is “Grateful for the community’s support and prayers during this difficult time.” A “Team Nick” Facebook Group sprung up on Jan. 6, 2013 and currently has 1,471 members (including the county attorney and myself — neither of which should be interpreted as any kind of endorsement).

KSP Detective Ricky Brooks is in charge of the investigation.

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Category: Reality Bytes

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I'm a Mid-South photojournalist, Kentucky writer and digital media consultant (or eNinja™). Circle me on Google Plus at Plus.BillySuratt.com, follow me on Twitter at @surattb and Instagram me at @BillySuratt. Got a news tip or suggestion about some journalism that needs committed? Email blog@billysuratt.com (discretion is always guaranteed).