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Charge Against FDL Police Chief Dismissed

A charge brought against Fond du Lac Police Chief Bill Lamb has been dismissed by the City’s Police and Fire Commission. Former County District Attorney Dan Kaminsky filed the charge alleging Lamb committed perjury and misconduct in office. Kaminsky represents former Police Officer Curt Beck. He alleged the Chief perjured himself during an investigation into Beck’s actions. The Commission issued an order and decision saying its decision was based directly on evidentiary facts presented on the record and in the hearing.  Last fall the Commission fired Beck for dishonesty. They felt at the time the chief’s investigation was fair and reasonable.  


The Commission’s Decision And Order:


BEFORE THE CITY OF FOND DU LAC POLICE AND FIRE COMMISSION

In the Matter of the Charges Filed Against

Chief William Lamb,

Respondent

by

Daniel Kaminsky,

Complainant.

DECISION AND ORDER

Synopsis

This matter arose as a companion case to In the Matter of the Charges Filed Against Curt Beck by

Chief William Lamb and originally included Curtis Beck as a complainant. The matters were

consolidated for evidentiary hearing, which occurred over several sessions in 2016, followed by

extensive hearings, legal argument, briefing, and deliberations on the other case. The Board found

Respondent Curtis Beck culpable on some but not all elements of the charges against him in that

matter and imposed the discipline of discharge. One supplemental evidentiary session on this second

matter was held on December 15, 2016, followed in its turn by written legal argument and

deliberations. The Board now finds that the charges in this second matter lack substantial legal merit

and dismisses them, with prejudice.



Procedural Background



This matter comes to us on a Statement of Charges by Curtis Beck and Daniel Kaminsky against

Police Chief William Lamb, dated March 1, 2016. Complainant Curtis Beck was represented by

Attorney Daniel Kaminsky, who also appeared pro se; Mr. Beck subsequently withdrew from this

matter. Chief Lamb has been represented by Attorney William Macy. This case was is a companion

to In the Matter of the Charges Filed Against Curt Beck by Chief William Lamb, which was heard

first, and whose record is incorporated by reference in this case. After that first case had concluded,

the Board convened one supplemental evidentiary session on December 15, 2016, to receive

additional evidence and argument pertaining to this second case only. The Board’s legal counsel,

Atty. Scott Herrick, presided during all evidentiary sessions, with four commissioners present to hear

all witnesses and decide all substantive questions during the first case, and with the three

undersigned commissioners hearing all witnesses and deciding all substantive questions during the

separate proceedings in the second case.

Following completion of the evidentiary portion of our hearings, pursuant to our rule adopted for

these cases, and with the agreement of the parties, we established a calendar for final written

arguments; principal arguments were received from each party, but Complainant did not file a

scheduled written reply. The arguments were distributed to commissioners for individual review, and

we have also had individual reference access to the complete hearing transcript and to all exhibits.

DECISION AND ORDER

page 2 of 4

Commissioners reconvened for deliberations on February 15, 2017, and we have developed and

reviewed multiple decision drafts.

The case is rooted in the investigation of Curt Beck’s conduct by the Fond du Lac Police

Department, the attempted resolution of allegations of misconduct, and related litigation in Circuit

Court, prior to the filing of the charges in the first of these companion cases. The allegations include

a critique of the charges filed by Chief Lamb against Curt Beck in the first of the companion cases,

essentially formulating a defense against the charges. In that matter we found substantial merit to

the Chief’s allegations, and in fact discharged Curt Beck. Our findings and action in that matter

dispose of the related critique of those charges in this second case.

The remaining gravamen of this Statement of Charges is that “Lamb intentionally lied under oath

about what happened at the Loudermill hearing with the specific intent to gain advantage in the

lawsuit with Beck by furthering the City’s claim that Beck was not terminated but voluntarily

resigned.” (Statement of Charges, page 4) In broad summary, the alleged falsehoods pertain to use

of various terms by Chief Lamb to describe the Chief’s actions with respect to Curt Beck’s

emolument as a Police Officer and the employment status of Curt Beck at various times, notably

“separated” and “terminated.”

We have reached our decision based directly on the evidentiary facts as presented to us on the record

and in our hearing. We have given only limited attention to several technical and formal issues that

might bear on our decision in such a matter as this, such as the standing of Complainant Kaminsky

as a statutory “aggrieved person,” and the application of the statutory “Seven Standards of Just

Cause” in proceedings brought by citizen aggrieved persons rather than by a Chief. We have

assumed without holding that Complainant has standing. We do not hold that this citizen aggrieved

person must comply with the “Seven Standards” at W.S. 62.13(5)(em), but we do hold that in this

matter the provisions of W.S. 62.13(5)(em) 1, 2, 3, and 4 have been met to the extent applicable.

In our judgment the City of Fond du Lac and Chief Lamb had proceeded against Curt Beck on

invalid legal grounds by attempting to terminate his employment without bringing a statement of

charges to this Commission, based in part upon a stipulated “last chance” agreement which was

misunderstood to obviate the statutory requirements of W.S. 62.13(5). (Daniel Kaminsky, as

attorney for Curt Beck, was apparently a signator to that agreement.) The Circuit Court for Fond du

Lac County disallowed that termination, and subsequently the matter came to us as the first of these

companion cases. In the course of the Circuit Court proceedings, Winnebago County Circuit Court

Judge Karen L. Seifert, who had been assigned to the Fond du Lac County case, stated

…the parties signed a last chance agreement. That agreement contained a mutual

mistake in that both parties believed they could contractually waive the disciplinary

process by which the [PFC] hears and decides disputes regarding officer discipline…

Defendants terminated plaintiff’s employment asserting its right to do so under the…

last chance agreement containing such mutual mistake… As a result of the mutual

DECISION AND ORDER

page 3 of 4

mistake, the last chance agreement is rescinded as a matter of law… [Writ of

Mandamus, January 5, 2016; Beck v. Lamb et al., Fond du Lac County Circuit Court

15 CV 127; see OPPOSITION TO MOTION TO DISMISS, April 3, 2016, in our

record of this matter.]

The record before us fully supports and corroborates the conclusion of Judge Seifert that the actions

of Chief Lamb prior to filing charges with this Commission may have been mistaken, and perhaps

more specifically a bit confused, as to matters of law, but were not deliberately deceptive. The Chief

was mistaken, and may have had difficulty explaining his mistaken actions. We find furthermore

that those mistakes were made in good faith, acting under legal advice. It would be understandable

if he was a bit confused in explaining legally incorrect measures, but we exonerate him entirely from

the allegations of deliberate misrepresentation in the Statement of Charges.

DECISION AND ORDER

Order, page 4 of 4

Order

On the entire record of these proceedings including the foregoing, and pursuant to 62.13(5),

Wisconsin Statutes, the Board orders as follows:

The Statement of Charges is dismissed, with prejudice.

Approved following deliberations,

and

filed with the Secretary this 15 day of March , 2017:

FOND DU LAC POLICE AND FIRE COMMISSION