Nash agrees to plea bargain, receives probation on two misdemeanors for neighborhood dispute case

COPYRIGHT, The Republic, Columbus

COLUMBUS, Ind. — Former Bartholomew County prosecutor Bill Nash entered into a plea bargain agreement Thursday in a case involving 11 charges, agreeing to plead guilty to Class B misdemeanors disorderly conduct and harassment in exchange for probation. The remainder of the charges, including two felonies, were dismissed.

Special Judge Gary L. Smith sentenced Nash to 180 days probation on each count, for a total of 360 days, which is to be served informally, according to Nash’s defense attorney Mark Dove. That means Nash will go through the probation intake process but will not have to report to probation officials as part of the sentence, Dove said.

“In my mind, this case was nothing more than a heated argument between neighbors,” Dove said after the sentencing. He said there never would have been criminal charges filed except that Nash was a public official and what he described as a “running feud” between Nash and the Columbus Police Department. Nash was charged only because of his notoriety as prosecutor,  Dove said.

Nash was the prosecutor who turned over evidence to a special prosecutor that resulted in criminal charges against two former Columbus police officers on accusations of ghost employment when they were accused of working on the clock for CPD and Columbus Regional Hospital security at the same time. Both of those cases resulted in plea bargains.

On July 15, 2022, Nash was accused of multiple charges by a special prosecutor relating to a criminal complaint from his neighbor regarding a dispute over dogs.

Special prosecutor Franklin W. Arkenberg filed the charges July 15 in Bartholomew Superior Court 1 accusing Nash of felony obstruction of justice, felony intimidation, misdemeanor intimidation, misdemeanor interference with the reporting of a crime, misdemeanor disorderly conduct, and four counts of misdemeanor harassment.

According to the unsealed probable cause affidavit, Indiana State Police Detective Tim Denby was assigned to investigate a criminal complaint received from Scott and Monica Salazar-Stuck at 6043 Acorn Drive in Columbus.

The couple alleged that Nash threatened Scott Salazar-Stuck’s life on Mother’s Day, May 8.

Bartholomew Superior Court 1 Judge James Worton approved a no contact order in the case prior to the time the probable cause affidavit was unsealed and then recused himself and all other Bartholomew County judges from the case, asking for a special judge.

Jennings Superior Court Judge Gary Smith was appointed for the case, according to court documents.

According to the probable cause affidavit, Denby interviewed the Salazar-Stuck couple on May 12. The victim told police he and his family were at their home on Mother’s Day and he was mowing his front yard when he noticed Nash in his own backyard gardening.

He said Nash aggressively approached him with an angry look on his face, and he stopped mowing, and then Nash yelled, “You have dangerous dogs, this is the last time. You yell about a BB gun being dangerous, your dogs are dangerous,” the probable cause affidavit states.

Scott Salazar-Stuck told Nash, “Don’t come on my property yelling at me. Get off my property,” the affidavit states.

He told investigators that Nash turned and while walking off stated, “D— dogs better be on a leash. Those are dangerous dogs and he better get a lawyer.”

The wife then came out to see if everything was OK.

Shortly after, he continued mowing and found a small animal collar with the name “Pepe” and a phone number, and when he called the number, it went to Nash’s voice mail.

When he walked to his fence, he held the collar in the air and said, “Hey, Bill, found this, I think it is yours,” the affidavit states.

According to the affidavit, Nash responded saying he should stay off Nash’s property and the “collar is mine.”

When Salazar-Stuck asked why the collar was on his property, Nash responded, “I don’t know, throw it over here,” the affidavit states. When Salazar-Stuck replied “Don’t you want to discuss this like adults?”, according to the affidavit, Nash replied, “You think a BB gun is dangerous! Your dogs are dangerous! A BB gun is not going to kill you! You have kids playing with the dogs! You think a BB gun can kill you! I can kill you! I will kill you and Indiana State Law says I can kill you! Dude, you came into my yard screamed at me about shooting a BB gun! You put up a fence! Throw and go, the last time I checked I am still the chief law enforcement officer until Dec. 31 so go ahead and call the cops! Good luck with that! Throw me my thing!,” according to the affidavit.

Salazar-Stuck said he was in shock and took Nash’s threat seriously, and told officers his wife video recorded some of the interaction on her cell phone, the affidavit states.

Everything after “Indiana law says I can kill you,” was recorded, the affidavit states.

The couple said they were “very concerned” for their safety due to Nash’s “erratic behavior,” his position and power as prosecutor and chief law enforcement officer in the county, the affidavit states.

For more on this story, see Friday’s Republic.