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Tuesday

September 2014

16

Butler cop charged with misconduct

Village of Butler — A Butler police lieutenant, whose allegations of misconduct against former Police Chief Michael Cosgrove led to the "porn in the morn" investigation of the Police Department last year, has found himself charged with official misconduct by the Waukesha County District Attorney.

Lt. Brian C. Pergande of West Allis is scheduled for an initial court appearance in Waukesha Court Circuit Court at 8:15 a.m. Monday, April 7, before Court Commissioner Thomas J. Pieper

A summons to appear in court was issued to Pergande late Friday afternoon, March 14, after District Attorney Brad Schimel filed a criminal complaint alleging that Pergande took inappropriate photographs of a stripper who was being held — perhaps improperly — at the village police station on September 8, 2009.

If found guilty, Pergande could face a minium of a year and a half in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000, according to Schimel.

Ironically, Cosgrove was neither disciplined nor prosecuted as a result of the investigation of his department that was apparently prompted by Pergande's and fellow officer Chat Rahn's complaints about the chief's conduct.

The investigation concluded the chief used police department computers to access and view pornography; used racially derogatory language in official emails and displayed sexist and racist attitudes toward department employees and other law enforcement officers.

According to the investigation, the chief and other Butler police officers often spent mornings viewing pornography.

Cosgrove was permitted to resign in the midst of the investigation and praised by then Village Administrator Jessie Thyes for "providing more than 33 years of dedicated service to the village."

Pergande and Rahn have filed a federal law suit against the village and the county claiming they were harassed and discriminated against during the investigation of the department.

They have asserted in the law suit that they were assured repeatedly by village officials that they would not be disciplined or retaliated against as a result of their cooperation in the investigation.

In the suit, they describe meetings with village and county authorities where they discussed complaints against the chief.

Schimel said the photographs of the stripper were found on Pergande's police computer, which was confiscated and searched as part of the sheriff's department's internal investigation of the Butler police.

Schimel said the charges against Pergande resulted from a separate investigation and were not based on any information that he provided the sheriff's office about the Butler police department.

Pergande has not been arrested because he does not pose a "flight risk," according to Schimel.

Pergande has denied the charges and told Waukesha County Sheriff's investigators that someone cropped and enlarged the photos in order to emphasize the breasts of the woman only identified as "M.J." in the complaint.

"The woman has very large breasts and was wearing a very low cut, tight fitting t-shirt, "according to the complaint.

"M.J." was arrested by Pergande and two City of Milwaukee police officers at a strip club on a warrant for failure to show up in court for a municipal citation.

The officers escorted her to a back room in the strip club where they watched her remove her bikini top and thong and change into street clothes before being taken by Pergande to the Butler police station, according to the compliant.

Before photographing her, Pergande searched the woman and her belongings and told her he found evidence of cocaine in a black bag she was carrying, according to the complaint, but never showed the evidence to "M.J."

Pergande told "M.J." that she "needed to call him when she got out of jail and if she didn't do what he said he was going to issue her $1,500 citation for drug paraphernalia."

He later placed his business card, on which he had written his cell phone number, in her black bag after taking her to the Waukesha County jail, according to the complaint.

"M.J." spent 52 days in the county jail as an alternative to paying the fine for the municipal ticket, according to the complaint.

Schimel said it was highly unusual for a police officer to travel into another jurisdiction to make an arrest on a warrant for such a minor offense.

Schimel also said it was against village police policy to fingerprint or photograph an offender at the village police station. Schimel said defendants were supposed to be taken directly to either the Waukesha County Jail or sheriff's office, according to village policy.

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