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Michigan sheriff’s deputy bought drugs, used N-word on duty. Then Holly police hired him

Police chief says he's 'reviewing and revising' background check procedures following 7 News investigation
Greg Marohn
Posted at 2:30 PM, Apr 30, 2024

HOLLY, Mich. (WXYZ) — Just after 8 o’clock on the morning of December 4, 2020, Oakland County Sheriff’s Deputy Greg Marohn was behind the wheel at the start of his shift.

His dash camera just began recording, not because Marohn turned it on but because of how fast he was driving: at more than 90 MPH, it kicks on automatically.

It’s not clear if Marohn realized he was being recorded.

He was on duty, in uniform and in his sheriff’s vehicle, but this trip was not about police business. With his dash camera recording, Marohn could be heard sending voice-to-text message from his phone.

“I’m going to need a few minutes or I don’t know what,” Marohn said, “because I need to go to the bank so it’s kind of messed right now. I have enough to loan you the hundred.”

Marohn, officials would learn, was sending texts to a man he would later admit he was purchasing schedule 2 narcotics from without a prescription.

“Loan you the hundred and then I’ll have to get it out and give the money to you tomorrow,” Marohn was recorded saying into his phone, “unless you have it and you have the pills already or whatever you did.”

Marohn would later admit to meeting the man on duty, in uniform. And the dash camera captured more.

While arranging the meet up, Deputy Marohn passed a dark-skinned woman walking her dog and can be heard hurling racist slurs.

“(Expletive) you (expletive). Little evil (expletive). Imagine this (expletive),” he said out loud.

“Imagine this (expletive) monkey, or whatever you are, Hispanic, or (n-word). They live in a nice house and think that they’re something,” Marohn said.

When the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office discovered the video, they opened an investigation. Marohn admitted to buying schedule 2 narcotics that he did not have a prescription for, according to sources.

He said he had done it before while on duty, according to sources, approximately 10 times.

Coupled with his racist rant, the sheriff’s office moved to fire Marohn, reporting to the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards that he “resigned in lieu of termination” for “conduct unbecoming."

His separation was supposed to serve as a warning to any department that might hire him down the road.

“It’s a huge red flag,” said Oakland County Major Chris Wundrach. “If one of our background investigators saw that in their background, we would stop the background and be done with it. We wouldn’t even take a chance on that.”

They wouldn’t. But another department did.

RELATED: How a troubled Michigan cop moved from department to department, leaving scandal in his wake

“He was a good officer,” said Holly Police Chief Jerry Narsh. “He treated the people of Holly and the staff here with respect.”

Narsh hired Marohn in Mach of 2022 without—he admits today—fully understanding why he left his job at the sheriff’s office. A little over a year into Marohn’s time in Holly, he would get an idea.

Last July 4th, records show, Marohn arrived for work and appeared unwell. He had “extreme difficulties” using his police radio, according to an investigation, repeatedly dropped his cell phone and—when he got behind the wheel—couldn’t drive faster than 10 mph.

He was taken to the hospital where a blood test was positive for buprenorphine—prescribed to help treat opioid addiction—along with another drug that Holly Police would not reveal.

Holly police officials said they learned Marohn had prescriptions for both, but hadn’t disclosed either.

Marohn said he was “under treatment for medical and sleep conditions” and did not wish to harm the department, records show. He resigned.

Chief Narsh told 7 News that there were no warning signs in Marohn’s background investigation.

“There was nothing specific or anything relating to addiction or medical issues that was discovered in his file,” Chief Narsh said.

“Are you sure about that?” asked Channel 7’s Ross Jones.

“I’m…quite sure,” Marohn said.

7 News shared the dash camera video that led to Marohn’s downfall with Narsh, who said he had never seen it before.

“He called a woman a monkey, he called a woman the n-word,” said Jones. "He admitted to buying schedule 2 narcotics, in uniform, on duty. And you hired him.”

“Not knowing that,” Chief Narsh replied.

 “And that’s kind of the point, isn’t it?” Jones asked.

“It is,” Narsh said.

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To be clear, Holly Police did conduct a background investigation into Marohn, but not a complete one.

A background investigators reviewed his personnel file from Oakland County, but never saw the investigation that triggered his ouster. Due to their sensitive nature, sheriff's officials say that internal affairs investigations are kept outside of an employee's personnel file, but are available to review.

Efforts by Chief Narsh to obtain a copy were turned down by a county clerk, e-mails show, who told him that the department does not release copies of internal probes.

But instead of digging further, Chief Narsh says he took Marohn’s word for why he was forced out.

Marohn, Narsh said, claimed it was for a “poor driving history.”

Bob Stevenson, the Executive Director of the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police, said that police departments—at a minimum—should be contacting a prospective officer’s current and prior supervisors when considering extending a job offer.

“We feel very strongly that as part of the background check, you have to interview and talk with all previous employers that a person has worked for,” Stevenson said.

But in the case of Greg Marohn, the sheriff’s office says Holly never reached out to Marohn's sergeant, lieutenant, captain, major or undersheriff.

Oakland County Major Chris Wundrach said that, had Narsh reached out to a supervisor, they would have allowed for him to review the internal affairs investigation that led to Marohn's separation.

A troubled officer like Marohn leaving one department only to join another was supposed to be made harder with a new law that took effect in 2018.

It required departments to specify when an officer left under negative circumstances, and if they tried to join another department, the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standars (MCOLES) would closely scrutinize that officer's history before signing off on the hire.

But MCOLES tells 7 News Detroit that Marohn slipped through the cracks because of challenges with understaffing going in their office at the time he came aboard in Holly.

They believe that current staffing levels would prevent something like this from being missed today.

In light of 7 News's investigation into Marohn’s hiring, Chief Jerry Narsh said his department is now “in the process of a complete review and revision of our background investigation procedures and policy in order to ensure we deliver the best people and highest level of services to the public we serve."

Marohn is not currently working as a police officer for any agency and did not respond to repeated calls, texts and a letter seeking comment from 7 News.

Contact 7 Investigator Ross Jones at ross.jones@wxyz.com or at (248) 827-9466.