Sheriff's office arrests officer, accuses him of taking jewelry from jail inmate

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Gazette staff
Tuesday, August 8, 2017

JANESVILLEA former Rock County jailer stands accused of stealing jewelry from a jail inmate, the sheriff’s office announced Tuesday.

Mitchell Wellnitz, 21, of Janesville was booked at the jail Monday and was released with an initial court date of Aug. 28, said jail Cmdr. Erik Chellevold.

The jewelry is a gold necklace that was attached to a ring that has diamonds in it, Chellevold said.

The jewelry, with an estimated value of $2,900, belongs to a Janesville man, Chellevold said.

Inmates’ valuables are kept in a storage room, and that’s where investigators believe Wellnitz took it from, Chellevold said.

The sheriff’s office opened the investigation Friday, according to a news release.

The theft was discovered when the owner was being released from the jail, Chellevold said.

Wellnitz was hired March 6. The news release lists his title as probationary correctional officer. He is suspected of committing the crime June 2 or 3, Chellevold said.

The news release states Wellnitz no longer works for the sheriff’s office.

Wellnitz was arrested on two felony charges: theft and misconduct in public office, but the district attorney’s office will determine the charges Wellnitz will face in court.

Chellevold said the decision to release Wellnitz was made after consulting with the district attorney’s office.

It’s common for some people accused of crimes to be released pending court proceedings, Chellevold said.

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