The Northwestern

Thu 6-June-2002

Official recorder not used 
Probe finds Jelinski purchased device

By Alex Hummel
of the Northwestern

Fired Assistant District Attorney Edmund Jelinski did not use a Winnebago County drug squad wire device to secretly record conversations with his former boss District Attorney Joseph Paulus, an investigation has concluded.

 Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department Capt. Steven Verweil said Wednesday his brief investigation into the claims made by Paulus “is now closed.”

 “There were allegations made, and I found no substantiation of those allegations,” Verweil said. “It was apparent that this was an unfounded allegation.”

 The tape recordings – which Paulus acknowledged might contain embarrassing, not incriminating, statements by him – are one chapter in two months of political intrigue and accusations by Jelinski, who seeks Paulus’ job. 

Jelinski said money or political favors have passed between select defense attorneys and prosecutors in exchange for reduced charges and sentences in court cases. He said he originally went to the FBI in January with several cases. 

The FBI has not returned repeated phone messages from The Northwestern. 

The wire recordings investigation report states that Jelinski was interviewed last week and admitted taping Paulus. However, Jelinski said he did so with a microcassette recorder that he bought on his own. Jelinski said he taped Paulus to document a shaky employer-employee relationship, and that he expected to be fired after his allegations and district attorney bid were announced. 

The report says that Jelinski “verbally attacked” Paulus, Sheriff Michael Brooks and Verweil during the interview. Jelinski said he questioned the validity of the investigation because Brooks has supported Paulus.

 The report also states Oshkosh Police Officer Jim Curtis once recommended that Jelinski buy a microcassette recorder as an effective way to tape his boss. Paulus asked that Curtis, a domestic abuse investigator, be reassigned last month after Jelinski was fired.

 Curtis told Verweil that he advised Jelinski “not to use the wire because it could cause problems down the line with using government property.”

 Jelinski said he never specifically asked to use the equipment. He and Paulus, the 13-year incumbent, swapped criticisms Wednesday after release of the report. 

Jelinski said it shows Paulus, the county’s “chief law enforcement officer,” has a political vendetta “to destroy anybody he perceives to be an enemy.”

 “I think the use of taxpayer money for this is ridiculous,” Jelinski said. 

Paulus said his former assistant unethically used work time to tape him. He also criticized Jelinski for allying himself with Ann Gollner -- a Menasha Police Department officer and former domestic abuse investigator who Paulus claims conducted a secret investigation into allegations of bribery in his office.

 “How about tapping taxpayer funds to tape record your boss on company time when he should be doing his job?” Paulus said. “How about using taxpayer funds by working in complicity with an off-duty police officer to conduct an investigation? This guy (Jelinski) lives by a double standard.”

 Paulus said he has decided whether he’ll seek re-election but won’t disclose it.

 “Whether I run or don’t run, I intend to fully expose him (Jelinski) for the reckless, unfit character he is,” he said. 

In the report, Paulus said two officers informed him of the possible illegal use of the drug squad’s body wire, but he doesn’t identify them citing the Monfils Law, a state law that protects the identities of whistleblowers. 

Verweil interviewed several members of the Multi-jurisdictional Enforcement Group, all of whom denied knowledge of Jelinski or anybody using wire equipment to tape Paulus, according to the report.

 Paulus said he isn’t surprised by the findings. In his original request for investigation, Paulus noted Gollner’s husband is a member of the MEG unit.

 “I certainly never expected any MEG unit officers or Jelinski to admit to it,” Paulus said. 

Gollner’s husband initially declined to be interviewed by Verweil. He’ll be interviewed Monday with a police union representative member present, according to the report.

Alex Hummel: (920) 426-6669 or ahummel@smgpo.gannett.com 
 

John Maloney
Police/Prosecutor Misconduct