Sheriff considering investigation of supervisor's commentsBy:
Shawano County Sheriff Randy Wright said Thursday there might be an investigation into statements allegedly made by a county supervisor during the execution of a search warrant at another supervisor’s home last week.
A search warrant executed April 15 at District 1 Supervisor Deb Noffke’s home in Shawano turned up no evidence of the drug activity detectives were apparently expecting to find.
Wright called the case closed Wednesday, but said a new investigation might focus on a cell phone conversation Noffke had with her father, District 14 Supervisor Marlin Noffke, while authorities were searching her house.
The search started two hours before Deb Noffke was due for a reorganizational meeting of the County Board and election of board chairman.
Noffke was allowed to use her cell phone during the search provided the phone’s speaker was on, according to reports by a Shawano County detective and a Stockbridge-Munsee police officer who participated in the search.
She first called her father to inform him her house was being searched.
According to the reports, Marlin Noffke said Wright had more to worry about, “like me shooting him with my shotgun.”
Marlin Noffke did not confirm or deny the statement during an interview Wednesday.
“I’d like to have a copy of the sheriff’s tape,” he said. “I’m going to ask for the tape.”
Wright said there was no video or audio recording made while the search warrant was being executed.
As the search went on, Deb Noffke next called County Board Chairman Jerry Erdmann, according to the report.
After being told about the search, Erdmann allegedly called it “convenient for the sheriff to do that,” the report states.
The report also states Erdmann went on to say, “The sheriff is only doing this to keep you from the vote today,” and, “I’ll take care of this.”
As it turned out, Noffke did make it to the board meeting in time.
Erdmann won re-election as County Board chairman 15-12 over District 6 Supervisor Randy Young.
Marlin Noffke said he believed the timing of the search warrant was calculated to take both Noffkes away from the meeting. He claimed Wright would have expected him to go to his daughter’s house after hearing about the search warrant.
“He wanted me to show up at the house,” he said. “That would have been two votes. It’s that simple.”
Wright said the timing was based on when the warrant was issued and what manpower was available.
The warrant shows that it was received by sheriff’s detectives at 10:37 a.m. April 14, the day before it was executed.
Wright said the execution of the warrant was arranged with assisting Langlade County deputies and Stockbridge-Munsee police by a Shawano County detective who was unaware the County Board meeting was also scheduled for that day.
County Board meetings usually take place on the fourth Wednesday of the month. But because April’s meeting was re-organizational, statutes dictate it be held on the Tuesday two weeks after the spring election.
“When it was set up, the County Board wasn’t even given a thought when the meeting was going to be because they’re usually at the end of the month,” Wright said.
He said after the search operation was set up, he mentioned to the detective that it was also the day of the board meeting.
“This surprised the detective that was working on it,” Wright said.
Wright said he was concerned about Marlin Noffke’s alleged threat and Erdmann’s statement that he would “take care of this.” He said he would not rule out a link between that comment and a subsequent change in the make-up of the Public Safety Committee, which oversees the Sheriff’s Department.
Members of the Committee on Committees, who are chosen by Erdmann, met with him Monday to make new committee assignments for county supervisors.
District 9 Supervisor Ken Capelle and District 15 Supervisor Marvin Klosterman, whom Wright said were more sympathetic to the Sheriff’s Department, were replaced on the Public Safety Committee by District 11 Supervisor Richard Ferfecki and District 27 Supervisor Jon Zwirschitz.
“Two people who have been very fair and impartial have been taken off,” Wright said.
In an interview Thursday, Erdmann stood by his contention that the timing of the warrant was “rather convenient.”
He also said his comment about “taking care of this” was in reference to the board meeting that was due to start shortly.
As for the committee replacements, Erdmann said Capelle and Klosterman had been too sympathetic to Wright and willing to vote for anything Wright favored and against anything he opposed.
“It was time for a change,” Erdmann said. “There was a need on that committee for board members willing to hold the sheriff accountable for actions he’s done over the past year.”
He said those actions included threats to sue the county, bail money that went missing from the jail, threats against the administrative coordinator and an incident last week involving an off-duty deputy who had a confrontation with another motorist.
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