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Former Waukesha County Sheriff's lieutenant charged with obstruction, theft

March 25, 2014

A former lieutenant with the Waukesha County Sheriff’s Department was accused Tuesday of obstructing state authorities investigating her for prescription pill theft.

Sarah L. Massa, 36, was charged Tuesday, March 25, in Waukesha County Circuit Court with misdemeanor theft and obstructing an officer, both misdemeanors.

She could face 18 months in prison and $20,000 in fines if convicted.

According to the criminal complaint, Waukesha Police contacted state authorities last year about the theft of opiate medication from the McDermott residence at 1501 Pewaukee Rd., Waukesha.

Massa was suspected of stealing the medication, which was prescribed to her grandmother, Leona McDermott, to treat pain related to terminal cancer, the complaint states.

Donald McDermott, Massa’s grandfather, told investigators that about 60 pills had gone missing after a Fourth of July party was held at the residence. He discovered that another 58 pills had gone missing in September.

In both instances Massa was at the home around the time the pills went missing. He said in the complaint that his granddaughter was a “good kid,” but she suffered from back pain and “something was going on.”

Investigators places a covert camera and a bottle of placebo pills in Donald McDermott’s bedroom in October and pills again went missing on Nov. 13.

Investigators reviewed the tape, which the complaint states was “very dark,” but it showed an individual in a police uniform with a gun holster entering the room and removing the fake pills from a nightstand.

Donald McDermott told investigators that Massa was at the residence at the time in question and identified the person as his granddaughter based on her profile.

Investigators spoke with Massa on Nov. 18. She told investigators in the complaint that she suspected her aunt was stealing the medication. She later admitted to taking the pills from the room, but claimed she knew they were not Percocet. When asked what she did with the pills, she said she consumed them all at once.

Massa went to her grandparent’s house on Nov. 21 and tried to talk Donald McDermott into dropping the charges, the complaint states. He told investigators that she admitted to taking the pills at that time.

Sheriff Daniel Trawicki said in a statement after the charges were revealed that he did not wish to speak on the matter because the criminal case is ongoing. He said that Massa was placed on administrative leave in December and resigned from the force on Wednesday, March 5.

Sheriff Department spokeswoman Jennifer Wallschlaeger previously said that Massa had been with the department since 2001.  

Her husband, Chris Massa, was an officer with the Waukesha Police Department until he resigned in late February. Police Chief Russell Jack said in a news release regarding the resignation that Chris Massa was being investigated at the time for sending sexually suggestive pictures or texts to his wife while on duty.

“Based on the information available we believe that we would have been able to substantiate the charges against him, and the investigation would have resulted in discipline up to and including termination,” he said.

The evidence that initiated that internal investigation, now closed, was located on his wife’s phone.

According to court records, the case against Sarah Massa will be prosecuted by District Attorney Brad Schimel.

She is expected to make an initial appearance in court on Monday, April 7.

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