A law enforcement task force identified three suspects — including the son of the director of the Miami Valley Crime Lab — after raids Monday involving an investigation into an alleged indoor marijuana grow operation.
The Tactical Crime Suppression Unit (TCSU) named suspects Thomas J. Betz, Melanie Betz and Michael Dorley after it executed four search warrants that are under seal.
TCSU Director Charlie Stiegelmeyer said state charges are likely against all three. Thomas Betz is the adult son of Ken Betz, the longtime director of the Miami Valley Crime Lab. Reached by phone, Thomas Betz had no comment.
The task force, along with assistance of Montgomery and Warren County agencies, raided the four properties — two in Dayton, one in Harrison Twp. and one in Springboro — on Monday morning.
Thomas and Melanie Betz’s Springboro residence on West Waterbury Drive was searched, and WCPO reported that several bags of evidence were taken away as concerned neighbors watched.
When contacted, Ken Betz, who is also director of the Montgomery County coroner’s office and a Butler Twp. Trustee, said he was unaware of the raid and said, “No comment.”
Kettering police assisted with a search of TB Livery Inc. at 1918 Valley St. in Dayton, which is owned by Thomas Betz, according to the Better Business Bureau.
Officials also raided a home on Woodville Drive in Harrison Twp. that’s reportedly connected to Thomas Betz. Neighbor William Kirk said between 12 and 24 heavily armed police officers wearing SWAT equipment were on the scene.
Police also raided a property owned by Dorley on Kling Drive in Dayton. Dorley, 40, has been booked into the Kettering City Jail on potential charges of drug possession and cultivating marijuana.
Thomas Betz declared bankruptcy in 2002 when he owed debts to at least three casinos, according to U.S. Bankruptcy Court records. Betz had filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy on Oct. 31, 2002, and had liabilities of $45,672.
Creditors holding claims against Betz were Belterra Casino for $10,500, Indiana Gaming Co. LPA for $6,272, Grand Victoria Casino for $6,000 and Argosy Casino for $6,000. He also owed money to MBNA Bank, Key Bank, Provident Bank and $1,100 in parking violations at Wright State University.
At the time, court documents showed Betz worked as a biohazard recovery technician for Protech and reported income of $250 per month. The bankruptcy case was discharged in March 17, 2003.
In 2008 and 2009, TB Livery had a contract with Community Tissue Services in Dayton to transport donor bodies to the Community Blood Center for the center to recover tissue, according to an earlier interview with the blood center spokeswoman, Amy Moeder.
At the time, Betz’s company was paid $130 per body, and Moeder said there had been no problems with the company. Moeder said she is checking to see if the tissue center is still doing business with TB Livery.
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In 2012, Thomas Betz was named in a Dayton Daily News investigation of the Montgomery County Coroner’s office contract with GSSP Enterprises Inc. That body hauling business, owned by Brian E. Higgins, had been paid $1.1 million by the Montgomery County Coroner’s office since 1996.
Higgins employed Thomas Betz at Pro-Tech Biohazard Recovery LLC. Thomas Betz also worked for Higgins’ GSSP in Hamilton County, but never made body removals for Montgomery County, said Ken Betz.
Higgins withdrew from his county contract two days after publication of the investigation, which found GSSP owed $215,523 in back taxes and that Higgins had never disclosed his business relationship with Ken Betz.
The elder Betz had been heavily involved in bidding out and monitoring the contract with GSSP, and the county’s top purchasing official said that had that business relationship been known to him, Ken Betz would not have been permitted to monitor the contract.
At the time, Montgomery County Coroner Kent Harshbarger said he knew Ken Betz and Higgins had formed a company together, but did not consider it a conflict.
Harshbarger, who was deputy coroner starting in 2002 before becoming coroner in 2011, also had a business relationship with both Betzes, the Dayton Daily News found.
In 2004, Harshbarger formed First Forensic of Ohio LLC with Ken Betz. In 2005, Thomas Betz applied for a vendor license under that name and did cleanup work for Five Rivers MetroParks, county records show.
Harshbarger said he did not consider it to be a conflict to be in business with Ken Betz or to hire his son. Harshbarger dissolved the company in April 2012, four days after the Dayton Daily News published its investigation.
Stay with DaytonDailyNews.com for the latest on the investigation into an alleged marijuana growing operation in which family members of a county official have been named as suspects.