Secret recording key evidence against Hope town marshal
A longtime police chief is now at the center of a criminal investigation, accused of framing an innocent man. But the veteran officer insists he is the victim. A jury will decide who's telling the truth, with the help of some startling evidence.
Bob Segall/13 Investigates
HOPE - Hope is a picturesque 608-acre town in northeast Bartholomew County.
On each end of Main Street, visitors are greeted with a sign that says: "Hope: A Surprising Little Town."
With criminal charges now filed against its police chief, Hope is living up to that reputation.
Donald "Randy" Bailey has been Hope's town marshal and police chief for almost 25 years. But nowadays, you won't find Bailey at the police station.
The Hope town council recently placed Bailey on administrative leave without pay after the marshal was arrested by Bartholomew County Sheriff's deputies. He's accused of misconduct, lying to other police officers and investigators, and framing a town resident with false allegations.
The county prosecutor decided to file charges against Bailey after learning of evidence that detectives were not expecting.
Death threat reported
Investigators say the case began in May 2012, when Bailey went to the home of Anthony Paul to speak with him about a civil matter. During that visit, Bailey described Paul as uncooperative and aggressive, prompting the marshal to threaten Paul with a taser. Paul demanded Bailey leave his home, and the marshal did.
The next morning, Paul showed up at Bailey's front door.
According to court records, Paul told investigators he "wanted to give Bailey a piece of his mind" after the marshal woke him up the night before and pointed a taser at Paul in his own home.
Bailey described to detectives what happened when he heard knocking and found Paul standing outside:
"Mr. Paul immediately asked ‘Are you the [expletive] that pointed the taser at me last night.' I stated that I was and that he needed to leave my property. Mr. Paul refused stating ‘I'm not leaving.' I ordered Mr. Paul to leave or he would be arrested. Mr. Paul looked at me and stated ‘This is about my kids and I'm gonna kill you.'"
According to Bailey, Paul then ran to his car and drove away. He didn't get far.
The town marshal immediately called Bartholomew County Dispatch for backup from his police officers.
"You need to start someone toward my H[ouse]," Bailey told dispatchers. "I just had a subject knock on my door and threaten to kill me from a call that I went on last night. He's headed back toward Hope. I'm trying to get them to get him stopped right now."
Hope police officers stopped Paul a few minutes later. He was arrested and charged with trespass and felony intimidation against a police officer.
For Chief Bailey, that's when the real trouble began.
A 7-page probable cause affidavit signed by Bartholomew County Sheriff Mark Gorbett alleges Bailey was not telling the truth.
While Paul admits he did go to the police chief's house "to give Bailey a piece of his mind" after the marshal pointed a taser at him in his own home, sheriff's investigators say Paul did not trespass or threaten to kill anyone.
In fact, detectives believe the town marshal framed an innocent man with false allegations -- and they have some powerful evidence to back their position.
It's an audio recording that, according to the county prosecutor, documents the confrontation at Bailey's front door.
Paul says he recorded the entire conversation, thanks to a small digital recorder hidden in his pocket.
In April, a month before Paul's scheduled trial for intimidation of a police officer, he and his attorney presented the recording to the prosecutor. It was a bombshell to investigators, and it turned the case upside down.
"It was a surprise that the tape recording did not mirror the report made by the town marshal," said Capt. Greg Duke, who runs the detective bureau for the Bartholomew County Sheriff's Department. "I don't think anyone was expecting something like that."
His agency now has possession of the recorder and the critical audio.
That audio shows both Bailey and Paul politely greeted each other. After a few questions from Paul, the conversation turned confrontational, but no threat against the marshal can be heard on the recording.
Caught on tape
The following is a transcript of the audio recording provided to the Bartholomew County prosecutor:
Paul: Was you at my house last night?
Bailey: Yeah, I was.
Paul: How are you doing today?
Bailey: Well, I'm doing alright. Tired. I worked 'til four o'clock.
Paul: Yeah. Hey, I was tired, too. I was sleeping. And you come over and you point that faser [sic] at me?
Bailey: Yeah, I did.
Paul: Why did you point that faser [sic] at me?
Bailey: It ain't none of your business, and I'm gonna tell you something right now, buddy.
Bailey: You better get your [expletive] out of here, because if not, you're trespassing. And I will whip your [expletive].
Paul: You're going to whip my [expletive] for trespassing?
Bailey: You betcha. You better get in that car, and you better get the hell out of here.
Bailey: 'Cause I don't appreciate how you talked to me last night, either.
Paul: I don't appreciate how you talked to me.
Bailey: We were out there… all I came out there for… your wife was complaining that you were not… in compliance with the order. We just wanted to talk to you, just say, hey, what's going on? You made us do everything we did. We were not…
Paul: I made you do what?
Bailey: Ask, ask…
Paul: What did I make you do?
Bailey: Ask your buddy?
Paul: What did I make you do? My buddy said that I wasn't being disrespectful or nothing and you're pointing that faser [sic] at me. I wasn't being aggressive…
Paul: …I wasn't doing anything.
Bailey: You know what? You're a drunk.
Paul: I'm a drunk?
Paul: And what are you then?
Bailey: You're a drunk. Get your [expletive] out of here…
Paul: What are you?
Bailey: Get out of here before you get arrested.
Paul: You came in my house and pointed a gun at me when I wasn't even doing anything. Okay?
At the end of the conversation, Mr. Paul can be heard walking back to his car, getting in and beginning to drive off.
Is it real?
The sheriff's department sent the recording to a former FBI special agent who is an expert in forensics audio analysis to determine if the audio has been manipulated or altered.
"We took that recording in as evidence, and we had it carefully examined by two different sources who are experts in these matters to be sure knew we had a legitimate recording," explained Duke. "Right now we have a very high degree of confidence."
According to the sheriff's department, expert analysis of the digital recording revealed the recording is "original, continuous and unaltered" and "no other subsequent alterations were made to their content."
Based on those findings, the prosecutor charged Bailey with official misconduct and false informing. At the same time, he dropped all charges against Paul.
"Without this bit of tape, this digital recording, who knows what might have happened," Duke said.
Paul told WTHR he does not want to talk publicly about his case until charges against the town marshal are resolved.
Bailey, however, is speaking out.
Marshal: "I am innocent"
Upon the advice of his attorney, the veteran police officer would not meet for an on-camera interview. But during a recent visit to his home, Bailey agreed to speak with 13 Investigates about the charges against him. It is the first time the town marshal has publicly discussed the allegations since his arrest.
"I'll tell you right up front, I'm not guilty of this," Bailey told WTHR. "My record is spotless. I've never been in any trouble in my life."
Bailey insists Paul did threaten him during their conversation at his doorstep. The marshal and his attorney both believe the audio evidence now at the center of the case was edited to remove the threat – despite the state's expert analysis that suggests the recording was not altered.
"I wish I had a nickel for every time I've seen an expert opinion be wrong," said defense attorney Tom Barr. "How Paul managed to delete it from his recording is being investigated. At this point we're still in the early stages of discovery, and we have not had an opportunity to have the recorder examined by our own expert."
Barr met with Eyewitness News to read from a prepared statement in which he raised questions about Paul's credibility and character. He said it is very suspicious that Paul would secretly record his conversation with the marshal, and even more strange that he would wait almost a year to bring the recording to the attention of the prosecutor.
(Paul told 13 Investigates he could not discuss the delay in reporting the audio tape to authorities, instead referring questions to his attorney, Dan Patterson. The lawyer did not return multiple phone calls from WTHR.)
At the same time, Barr highlighted the town marshal's history of public service.
"Randy Bailey in 24 years as town marshal has a completely unblemished record, never once has been written up or disciplined in any way. If he was the type of cop who would go around fabricating allegations against people … that type of thing would have showed up a long time ago on his record as a police officer," Barr said. "We believe the evidence will show that it is Randy who has been framed."
In the meantime, Bailey has started a part-time job while his case plays out in court. He hopes to return to his post as police chief following his trial, which is currently scheduled for December.
"People have twisted my words around… and it's ruined everything I've worked for my whole life," Bailey said. "I'll spend every nickel I've got fighting this because I am innocent."