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Tuesday

July 2014

22

Village of Butler hearing aimed at firing Officer Pergande may be held in June

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Butler — Village officials are preparing for a long and expensive quasi judicial hearing, possibly in the month of June, in an effort to have Lt. Brian Pergande fired from the village police department.

Village Administrator Kayla Chadwick says retired Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge Robert G. Mawdsley will preside over a disciplinary hearing that could last "multiple days" to determine whether the village can fire Pergande.

The hearing is required by state law because the village does not have a police commission.

Chadwick anticipates the proceedings will be "very formal" and similar to a trial. The hearing will cost the village a minimum of $750 per hour in legal fees.

Mawdsley will be paid $250 an hour and Village Attorney Paul Alexy and village labor relations lawyer Mark Olson are expected to cost a combined $500 an hour, according to Chadwick.

Because of legal costs related to police misconduct allegations, the village has already spent $21,000 more than the $33,000 it allocated in 2014 budget for legal fees.

The village also has been paying Pergande about $8,000 a month in salary and benefits for the past 13 months while he has been on paid administrative leave as a result of charges pending against him.

Like a flood

Chadwick said village cash reserves, which total about $400,000, will probably pay for most of the costs associated with police misconduct.

"We are treating this much the same way we might treat a flood," Chadwick explained.

Mawdsley has set a May 27 scheduling conference where the parties will discuss sharing witness lists, evidential documents, and reach an agreement on when the hearing will begin.

Chadwick said the village will submit to the retired judge a list of 10 witnesses that may be called to testify. She said she did not know how many witnesses lawyers for Pergande may call.

Chadwick anticipates the hearing dates may be set in mid or late June. However, she acknowledges she does not know what impact Pergande's criminal court schedule might have on the disciplinary hearing.

Seeking dismissal

Police Chief David Wentlandt is seeking Pergande's dismissal based on a wide range of misconduct charges, some of them revealed in an investigation of the police department conducted in 2013 by the Waukesha County Sheriff's office.

As a result of the investigation, Pergande was placed on paid administrative leave in April 2013.

Pergande faces criminal misconduct charges in Waukesha County Circuit Court.

He has a hearing on June 9 before Judge Donald J. Hassin Jr that could determine when he will face trial on the charges.

Pergande has pled not guilty to the charges stemming from his taking inappropriate pictures of a woman that he allegedly wrongfully detained in the Butler Village police station in 2009.

He also told the woman, employed as a stripper in a Milwaukee club, that he found evidence of drug paraphernalia in a bag she was carrying, but he did not file a report and or log the evidence into the police evidence inventory, according to the criminal complaint.

Two federal suits

In addition, Pergande was named last week in federal law suit filed against the village alleging that he and other village police officers used excessive force in beating a disabled New Berlin man as they arrested him on charges of operating a vehicle while intoxicated.

Pergande and fellow police officer Chad Rahn also have filed a federal law suit against the village alleging that they were harassed, discriminated against and their federal and state constitutional rights violated by the county sheriff's investigation. The investigation was triggered by Pergande and Rahn's misconduct complaints lodged against retired Police Chief Michael Cosgrove.

Cosgrove retired in the midst of the investigation that determined sexist and racist attitudes existed within the department including the chief and several of the officers on the seven - man force watching pornography on police computers during morning work shifts.

Pergande was accused of making derogatory racial comments while on assignment, using a state and federal police network for personal reasons, and using his department cell phone to transmit pictures of a local tavern employee exposing her breasts.

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