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Press Release

Former Southeast Missouri police chief sentenced on civil rights charge

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Missouri

ST. LOUIS – U.S. District Judge Stephen R. Clark on Tuesday sentenced the former police chief of a small town in Bollinger County to nine months in behind bars for using excessive force while detaining a woman during a custody dispute.

Marc F. Tragesser, 55, was police chief of Marble Hill at the time. On Nov. 25, 2018, he went to the Marble Hill home where a woman was staying. He was accompanied by the paternal grandmother of the woman’s children, and falsely claimed he had a court order allowing the grandmother to take the children.

When the woman asked to see a copy of the court order, Tragesser shoved her against the wall, knocking off her eyeglasses, and then handcuffed her. He also arrested her boyfriend.

Tragesser detained the woman in his police vehicle for 90 minutes, only releasing her when she agreed to turn over her children to their grandmother, his plea says. The grandmother did not have custody or visitation rights. Tragesser continued to refuse her requests to see the court order. The woman did not see her children again until March of 2019.

Earlier in the day, he’d threatened to arrest the homeowners, and allowed the grandmother to take property from the home, only some of which belonged to her son.

Tragesser pleaded guilty in January to a misdemeanor charge of deprivation of rights under color of law, which carries a maximum penalty of one year behind bars.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. 

Updated June 8, 2022

Civil Rights