Police Reports

Criminal Justice Council sanctions Sheriff Bill Bohnyak

Council can’t decertify elected sheriff, instead sanctions and reports him

By Guy Page

For at least the third time since September, the Vermont Criminal Justice Council has taken action against a Vermont law enforcement officer.

Orange County Sheriff William Bohnyak has been sanctioned for reportedly assigning a ‘level II’ deputy to a special investigations unit, a VCJS statement issued yesterday alleges. SIU cases involve felonies including sexual assaults, outside of a Level II scope of authority, VCJS said. 

The VCJS decertified Springfield Police Officer Anthony Moriglioni in November for grabbing in the neck a suspect believed to have drugs in his mouth. In September it decertified Williston Police Officer Travis Trybulski for an unauthorized traffic stop of a New York car. 

Decertification means a lifetime ban from working as a cop in Vermont. The action against Bohnyak stopped short of decertification – something Council members at a recent meeting said it can’t do because Bohnyak is an elected officer – and instead recommends “a sanction of a written warning, and that the Sheriff successfully complete the scope of authority training delivered for level II training at the Vermont Police Academy.” The Council also will report Bohnyak to “the National Decertification Index (NDI).”

The VCJS statement on Bohnyak reads in full:

“In its third consecutive month, the Vermont Criminal Justice Council has taken action regarding the certification of a Vermont law enforcement officer. The professional regulation subcommittee of the Council reviewed a complaint alleging a category C violation of unprofessional conduct statutes alleging that in August of 2020, Orange County Sheriff William Bohnyak assigned a level II deputy to investigate cases investigated by the Orange County special investigations unit (SIU). Cases handled by the SIU are typically felony cases and involve cases alleging sexual assault among other cases. Level II officers are not authorized to investigate such matters as the cases are outside of their “scope of authority”.

“A Stipulation and Consent Order was presented to the Council that outlined the policy violations and recommended a sanction of a written warning, and that the Sheriff successfully complete the scope of authority training delivered for level II training at the Vermont Police Academy on March 24, 2023. The Council unanimously approved the agreement and will report the action to the National Decertification Index (NDI). The next hearing date for the Vermont Criminal Justice Council is scheduled for February 21, 2023 at 9:00 AM.”

It is unclear which Vermont LEO was December’s object of certification. VDC has inquired of the VCJC.

Bohnyak was sworn in as the 82nd President of the National Sheriffs’ Association on June 30, 2022, the association website says. He started his law enforcement career in 1984 working for the Helmetta Police Department in New Jersey. After moving to Vermont in 1992, he worked for three years as a Randolph Police officer before joining the Orange County Sheriff’s Office in 1996.

Bohnyak worked his way up the ranks and eventually was elected Sheriff in November 2006. He was re-elected in 2010, 2014, and 2018. He is a graduate of the Monmouth County, NJ, Police Academy, the Vermont Police Academy, the National Sheriffs’ Institute, and the Rural Police Executive Institute. Bill was also a DARE instructor, Field Training Officer, Firearms Instructor and holds many other law enforcement certifications. 

Bohnyak currently is a member of several community organizations such as the Prevention Partnership, Restorative Justice Program, and the Orange County Domestic and Sexual Violence Committee. Bill represents the Vermont Sheriff’s Association on four committees: VAST (Vermont Association of Snow Travelers), State Policy Board of Special Investigative Units (Sex Crimes), Bias-free Policing, and Internet Crimes against Children. He also serves as a board member of LEAD (Law Enforcement Against Drugs and Violence). He is the Past President of the Vermont Sheriff’s Association and Randolph Sunrise Rotary Club and is a past member of the Governor’s Community Violence Prevention Task Force.

Members of the Vermont Criminal Justice Council include former AG William Sorrell, Brian Searles, Karim Chapman, Rachel Lawler, Maira Tungatarova, Christopher Louras, Shawn Pratt, Commissioner of Public Safety Jennifer Morrison, Kevin Lane, Commissioner of Corrections Nick Deml, Glenn Boyde, DMV Commissioner Wanda Minoli, Anthony Facos, Commissioner of Fish & Wildlife Chris Herrick, Commissioner of Mental Health Emily Hawes, Attorney General Charity Clark, State’s Attorney & Sheriff’s Executive Director John Campbell, Racial Equity Director Xusana Davis, Erin Hodges of VT Troopers Association, Michael Major of VT Police Association, Jennifer Frank of VT Chief Association, Mark Anderson of VT Sheriff’s Association, Tom Mozzer of VT State Employee Association, Trevor Whipple of VT League of Cities and Towns, Jennifer Poehlmann of Crime Victims Services, Cassandra Burdyshaw of Human Rights Commission, and Karen Tronsgard-Scott of E.D. VT Network DOMV/Sexual Violence.

Categories: Police Reports

16 replies »

  1. Sounds like a political hit job on an honorable, dedicated, public servant. One only need review the many things he has done serving over the past three decades to know this. I also know Bill as a friend and gentleman.

    It is so improper to take this action because of the alleged minor infraction he supposedly committed in the course of his duties. I feel certain that the closets of some of those on the Criminal Justice Council, and they know who they are, are full of skeletons.

    Folks, we better speak up for the good guys when we get a chance for when it is time for someone to speak up for us, there won’t be any left to do it.

    Bless you Sheriff Bill Bohnyak.

  2. I failed to mark “notify me of new comments on email. Please do that for me. Do not publish his.

  3. Yes, this is another good one being silenced and booted when honor and affirmation are warranted. Orange County Sheriff Department already misses you, Bill Bohnyak. We are down to 10 officers instead of close to 30. We don’t want an absentee Sheriff who will spend half a year as a snowbird. No one wants to serve with someone who doesn’t see the role as vitally important. It’s one thing to defund the police. It’s another to defraud citizens of our protection and to rob respected servant leaders of the generous accolades they should be bestowed.

  4. It would be nice to have faith that this council was serving justice… but I don’t have it. Incidentally, are you all aware that the Russian word for council is “Soviet”?
    In reporting things like this, it would be nice to print the defense in addition to the allegation. For example, was the Sheriff choosing between an underqualified investigator and no investigator at all? These things matter.

  5. I imagine Bohnyak’s career is over anyway. He lost his re-election campaign, and George Contois takes office on February 1st. Rumor was, that Bohnyak had planned to resign and have the Governor appoint his son to replace him. Cronyism at its finest!

    • His son is a State Trooper so how would that work? This is what happens when people spread misinformation!

  6. The Vermont Criminal Justice Council is nothing more than a work-around to defunding the police. It is a law enforcement micro-management kangaroo court. The “infraction” appears to be an adminstrative error regarding SIU investigations of felony sexual assaults. God forbid a sheriff intensifies efforts to investigate felony level sexual assaults! Likely including children? When it comes to politicians/bureaucrats and sexual assaults (Biden, Clinton, John Edwards, Anthony Weiner, Al Franken, Katie Hill), the State’s main objective is an overreaching threat to investigate and eliminate the investigators. The State is overriding the internal discipline pecking order all ready in place within the law enforcement stations and the cities/towns that employ them. The State makes it quite clear they have no trust in law enforcement and will ride them like rented mules in the Grand Canyon. Who in their right mind would take a job in law enforcement in this Babylon State of Vermont?

  7. It’s very apparent the Sheriff’s Offices are the newest “Defund the Police” recipients. Let’s make sure the rural counties of Vermont have no police agents to rely on for safety.