Minnesota Sheriff Major Demoted After His Official Car Was Found Abandoned in a Ditch with a Bottle of Vodka Inside

A Minnesota sheriff has been demoted after his official car was found abandoned in a ditch with a bottle of vodka, according to reports.

Robert Staupe, 48, of Hennepin County Sheriff's Office remains on personal leave after being demoted from the rank of major to lieutenant, the Star Tribune reported.

Last Saturday night, authorities found Staupe's official vehicle in a ditch across the road from the Northwinds Resort and Bar in Burnett County, northwestern Wisconsin—about 120 miles from his home in Lakeville, Minnesota.

According to an accident report, an unidentified person left the bar and drove the SUV into the ditch—which is located about three miles away from a cabin that Staupe and his wife own. The report named Robert Staupe as a suspect.

A Burnett County deputy who arrived at the scene tried to collect information from people who were in and around the bar before arranging for the vehicle to be towed away. However, several individuals refused to cooperate and one woman even cursed at the deputy, according to the report.

Eventually, the owner of the bar told the deputy that the vehicle belonged to somebody in law enforcement. Later on in the night, the deputy called the Staupes, and the major's wife, Susan Staupe, answered the phone. She allegedly told the deputy in an "argumentative" tone that the bar owner was driving the car when it crashed into the ditch and that they had been taken home in another car as passengers.

At the impound lot where the car had been towed, authorities found a bottle of vodka, fast-food containers, a woman's purse with Susan Staupe's driving license, a weed trimmer, and a Hennepin County jacket and sheriff's star.

The next day, Robert Staupe attempted to get his car back from the impound lot, admitting that he had crashed the vehicle into the ditch after drinking alcohol. He said the amount he had consumed was "not that much," according to the accident report.

In a statement provided to Newsweek, Hennepin County Sheriff Dave Hutchinson said: "I am aware of the incident that occurred in Burnett County, Wisconsin, involving one of our vehicles. We have launched an internal employment investigation into this incident. Because the matter is under investigation, I hope people understand that I cannot comment any further."

Hennepin County Sheriff's Office spokesperson Jeremy Zoss said all command staff—who are on call 24 hours a day—have official vehicles which they can drive for personal use. There is no official policy on the distance that can be driven in these cars.

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Stock photo: A Minnesota sheriff has been demoted after his official car was found abandoned in a ditch. iStock