TOWN OF CAMPBELL, Wis. (AP) – The police chief of a small town near La Crosse accused of harassing a local tea party activist is leaving his job.
The Town of Campbell and Tim Kelemen have reached an agreement which pays the chief for about 330 hours. The 37-year-old chief was earlier charged with a misdemeanor and pleaded no contest to unlawful use of a computer.
Kelemen admitted to using the activist’s personal e-mail address to sign him up for online dating services, and even pornographic websites. The chief said it was in response to abusive phone calls and emails in a disagreement over local demonstrations.
Kelemen’s lawyer says the chief will apply for disability benefits for a mental health condition he says stems from harassment by the local tea party activists.
Previous story – July 25, 2014
(Update) Town of Campbell police chief pleads to one charge
Town of Campbell Police Chief Tim Kelemen pleaded no contest Friday to a charge that he signed a local tea party leader up on gay dating, pornography and federal health care websites.
Prosecutors charged Kelemen earlier this month with one misdemeanor count of unlawful use of a computerized communication system. Kelemen entered the plea in a deal that calls for the charge to be dismissed in two years if he doesn’t commit any new crimes, continues counseling and completes 40 hours of community service.
The charge stems from a feud between Kelemen and tea party leader Greg Luce. It began last fall when the tea party began holding protests on an interstate overpass in Campbell. Concerned the protests were distracting drivers, Kelemen persuaded the town board to ban signs on the bridge.
Kelemen told investigators Luce urged tea party supporters across the U.S. to bombard his department with harassing phone calls and threats in retaliation for the ordinance.
Kelemen told investigators he tried to get back at Luce this winter by using his name, address, phone number and email address to create accounts for Luce on homosexual dating, pornography and federal health care websites. He told investigators he didn’t think what he was doing was a big deal.
La Crosse police turned the case over to Monroe County authorities.
Luce told Monroe County Circuit Judge David Rice on Friday that Kelemen is getting away with a “slap on the wrist.” He said he thinks Kelemen has suffered a psychological breakdown and shouldn’t be allowed to carry a gun or wear a badge again.
Kelemen didn’t address the court.
Luce has filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging the sign ordinance violates his free speech rights and demanding damages from Kelemen for stealing his identity. The town board has placed Kelemen on paid leave.
Previous story 7-17-14
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A prosecutor has charged a western Wisconsin police chief with a misdemeanor for allegedly signing a tea party leader up for solicitations from gay dating, pornography and federal health care websites.
Monroe County District Attorney Kevin Croninger charged Town of Campbell Police Chief Tim Kelemen on Thursday with one count of unlawful use of a computerized communication system. The chief would face up to $1,000 in fines and 90 days in jail if he’s convicted.
According to a criminal complaint, Kelemen told investigators he signed La Crosse Tea Party leader Greg Luce up for websites because he felt Luce his supporters to harass his officers.
Kelemen’s attorney says he’s brokered a deal with Croninger that calls for Kelemen to continue counseling and perform 40 hours of community service.
Previous Story 6-13-14
Town of Campbell police chief now on leave as investigation into conduct continues
The Associated Press is now reporting the town of Campbell Police Chief Tim Keleman, who admitted to signing up a Tea Party activist for harassing emails, has been placed on paid leave following a meeting of the town board on Thursday. Keleman’s attorney Jim Birnbaum says the action is routine when investigations are ongoing and in no way implies guilt.
Board chairman Scott Johnson said the board is not considering any action until after Monroe County investigators have completed their investigation. Monroe County was assigned the case after La Crosse County received a complaint from Tea Party member Greg Luce who thought his identity had been stolen when he began getting harassing emails that said he had signed up for dating and pornography sites.
La Crosse County turned the investigation over to Monroe County because of their close working relationship with the town of Campbell. The Monroe County District Attorney’s Office is considering possible charges after Keleman first lied to investigators (see video below) that he didn’t know anything about the emails and then admitted he signed Luce up. Kelman later told investigators he did sign Luce up but said he didn’t think it was a “big deal”.
The town of Campbell Board of Supervisors met in closed session last night to discuss possible disciplinary action against police chief Tim Keleman, but decided against taking any action so far but are still investigating.
Keleman has admitted to Monroe County investigators that he retaliated against a Tea Party activist, Greg Luce, that he said has been harassing his department by signing him up for websites like online dating sites and pornography sites.
Luce filed a complaint with La Crosse County when it appeared his identity had been stolen. La Crosse County turned the investigation over the Monroe County because of their close working relationship with the town of Campbell Police.
In a video obtained by a La Crosse Tea Party group Keleman at first denies signing Luce up for the sites then goes on to admits it but only after investigators say they traced who signed him up to Campbell PD computers and Keleman’s home PC.
“Hey buddy, you messing with me, I’m going to sign you up for a couple of newsletters, take that pal. I am not denying I did it, but I didn’t know it was that big of a deal,” said Kelemen.
The conflict between the Campbell police and the Tea Party began last year when the town board passed an ordinance banning protests on a walking bridge that spans I90. The town was concerned that the protesters were creating a safety hazard because they had been on the bridge with large signs and flags protesting Obamacare and the president that were distracting motorists.
A website for the Tea Party group in La Crosse states “The unconstitutional ordinance was presented and pushed by Police Chief Tim Kelemen. Activists from around the state and the country came for a rally on December 7 in defiance of the ordinance and video taped the police chief’s inept attempt at enforcing the ordinance. (He issued 4 citations, but never even asked anyone to stop displaying their sign or to leave the bridge). If the ordinance was really in the name of safety, he was endangering motorists by not removing the flags, signs and even an 8 foot wooden cross.
A federal complaint was filed by the Thomas More Law Center for plaintiffs Greg Luce and Nick Newman. “
That ordinance led to a federal lawsuit filed against the town of Campbell and the Campbell Police Department by the group claiming their free speech rights had been violated.
Here is part one of Keleman’s interview with Monroe County investigators
Here is part two of the interview. Keleman claims his officers were receiving death threats through emails and was frustrated the state Division of Criminal Investigation refused to investigate. Keleman hints that perhaps DCI would not investigate for political reasons since there is currently a republican governor and the protesters were members of the Tea Party.
The La Crosse Tea Party group that obtained the videos can be found here
Category: Local News