May 26, 2002
Winnebago County supervisor wants Paulus to report to committee
BY ALEX HUMMEL
The head of Winnebago County’s Judiciary and Public Safety Committee will ask District Attorney Joseph Paulus to speak to his committee next month about allegations of misconduct in the prosecutor’s office.
Committee Chairman Harvey Rengstorf said he plans to extend the invitation to Paulus, but said the visit may not yield many answers.
The committee has oversight of the district attorney’s budget, but few
other controls over departments it supervises.
Committee member Bill Wingren, of Oshkosh, on Friday broached the idea of a committee meeting with Paulus, citing his concerns about a rumor mill that has sprung up in the wake of allegations that prosecutors improperly reduced drunk driving charges for clients of favored defense attorneys.
"I’m very concerned about all this rumor stuff," Wingren said. "As I go out walking, people are going, ‘‘What’s going on out there?’ I don’t know."
The sources of the allegations, former Assistant District Attorney Edmund Jelinski and domestic abuse investigator Ann Gollner, have said the FBI is investigating the case —— something the FBI will neither confirm nor deny.
On May 14, Paulus fired Jelinski, who plans to challenge Paulus in the November election. His campaign manager, then-Assistant District Attorney Thomas Chalchoff, was also fired.
Paulus has denied any wrongdoing by his office, and he calls the allegations politically motivated.
"To this day, I still have not heard from any investigator," Paulus said.
A Northwestern review of 25 drunk driving cases in which charges were reduced between 1996 and 2000 showed 12 were modified –– typically to reckless driving -- despite police reports showing the defendants had blood-alcohol contents greater than the state limit of 0.10.
Paulus said those cases are a small portion of the more than 1,300 drunk driving cases handled by the department over four years.
Alex Hummel: (920) 426-6669 or firstname.lastname@example.org