Stafford sues Sugarcreek police, others over golf course incident

BELLBROOK — Sugarcreek Twp. businessman John Stafford has filed a lawsuit in federal court against Sugarcreek Twp. government, Sugarcreek police and 33 others for an incident in which he was arrested for alleged aggravated menacing.

The lawsuit alleges that the defendants “both individually and/or as part of a conspiracy” violated Stafford’s rights to due process and improperly withheld evidence related to the May 2021 incident in which Stafford was cited for aggravated menacing. Police accused Stafford at the time of threatening golfers at Sugar Valley Golf Club with a firearm.

The suit further alleges that the Sugarcreek Twp. police department withheld evidence from his legal team to increase the likelihood that he would be wrongfully convicted or be pressured into a plea deal. According to the filing, Sugarcreek police “frequently” engaged in similar behavior with Stafford and others and failed to train its employees properly.

Defendants named in the case include Sugarcreek Twp., Sugarcreek Twp. police department, Police Chief Michael Brown, three Sugarcreek police officers, WHIO-TV, WHIO news anchor James Brown, Sugar Valley Country Club and its owners and each of the golfers and neighbors who called 911 regarding the incident. The lawsuit also names 10 “John and Jane Does” and 10 anonymous corporations as defendants.

Stafford, who owns and operates his namesake jewelry company, lives next to the fifth hole of the country club. Stafford came out of his house with a firearm, and a verbal altercation ensued, according to police. Stafford claimed that the golfers were on his property, while one of the 911 callers stated he and others were on the fairway, police said.

Stafford was arrested at his home and was charged with aggravated menacing, court records show. The case was later dropped.

“We look forward to our day in federal court, where we will prove there is corruption in the Sugarcreek police department and will prove the illegal gambling and police protection provided to the country club. What happened to me is something that shouldn’t happen to anyone in our community,” Stafford said.

Sugarcreek Twp. officials said they could not comment on the lawsuit.

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