A former Lake County sheriff’s sergeant who resigned earlier this year amidst a state investigation into him falsifying his military record has been stripped of all his law certifications, permanently barring him from being a law enforcement officer in Montana and likely anywhere else in the nation.
Dan Duryee, who resigned from the Lake County Sheriff’s Office in early January, can appeal the decision, which was handed down by the Montana Public Safety Officer Standards and Training (POST) Council, the quasi-judicial board that oversees law training and certification.
According to an April 9 findings of fact report, Mike McCarter, a POST hearing officer, concluded that Duryee lied “both on and off duty” over a period of years about his military record.
Because of Duryee’s lies, and his failure to take responsibility for them, McCarter recommended that POST revoke his law enforcement certifications. McCarter’s report notes that Duryee holds five certifications: basic, coroner basic, intermediate, advanced and supervisory.
Based on McCarter’s recommendation, the POST Council on April 22 in Helena voted unanimously to permanently revoke Duryee’s certifications. Unless he successfully appeals, he can no longer obtain law certification in Montana and his name is entered into a national database, which typically means that law agencies in other states will not hire him either, a POST official said.
According to the report, Duryee claimed he had killed enemy combatants while serving in the Marine Corps in the first Gulf War; lost comrades in his unit including one of his best friends; had a scar on his arm resulting from a napalm wound; and suffered from post-traumatic stress syndrome, based on a POST investigation and testimony from a number of witnesses.
Duryee admits that he never served in the military and falsely claimed that he did, but denies making “many of the statements attributed to him,” the findings of fact report states.
McCarter wrote in his report that Duryee’s attorney had argued his client was taking responsibility for his actions when he resigned from the Lake County Sheriff’s Office in early January and sought alternative employment. But McCarter countered that Duryee’s argument was “unsupported by any evidence” and “there is little in the record to show remorse.”
“Indeed, his letter to the union and his deposition show that he has failed to acknowledge and take responsibility for his lies and draw into question his honesty and integrity in responding to the charges against him,” McCarter wrote.
At a hearing in Helena on April 1 and 2, nine witnesses testified against Duryee, including three current and former Lake County Sheriff’s officers and Clay Coker, the acting executive director and investigator for POST. Lake County Sheriff Jay Doyle was the only witness to testify on Duryee’s behalf, according to McCarter’s report.
The original complaint from POST also alleged that Duryee was in “possession of an unregistered and illegally converted machine gun.” The machine gun allegation was dropped.
McCarter noted that Duryee’s attorney was uncooperative throughout the legal process, failing to appear at scheduled hearings and exhibiting a “pattern of dilatory tactics, obstruction of discovery, and outright defiance of my procedural orders.”
Duryee began serving with the Lake County Sheriff’s Office in September 1998, according to McCarter’s report. In a letter to his union, Duryee admitted that he had lied once about his military record when he was drinking, the report states. But in his deposition he admitted to lying on more than one occasion and that he may have made claims when he was not drinking.
After POST conducted an initial investigation in 2010, a psychologist found no reason to conclude that Duryee was not fit for duty, chalking his behavior up to “immaturity” rather than an “indication of psychopathology.”
But a POST investigator raised questions over whether Duryee had fully disclosed the extent of his lies, based on Duryee’s union letter claim that he lied only once. Duryee characterized it as a “fish story.”
As more evidence trickled in, POST decided to pursue the investigation further, leading to a 2011 complaint and the hearing earlier this month.
McCarter concluded that an officer lying about his military record raises “questions in the mind of the public as to a(n) officer’s honesty and integrity and will undermine public confidence in the law enforcement agency.”
“Such lies raise questions as to the office’s character and truthfulness,” he wrote.
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