Kenosha Joint Services is an intergovernmental agency that provides 9-1-1, police records, identification, evidence, and fleet maintenance services for the Kenosha Police Department and Kenosha Sheriff’s Department. A four-month-long investigation into serious misconduct allegations has concluded. The allegations were made against fleet maintenance manager Pat Sepanski. The whistle-blower made these allegations to KCE after Joint Services Director Josh Nielsen refused to investigate an internal complaint. We notified Nielsen of the allegations and he started an “in house” investigation only after we notified the public.
Kenosha Alderman David Mau and Kenosha County Board Supervisor and long time Attorney, Terry Rose, didn’t think that was a good idea. The duo demanded a criminal investigation. Only then did Nielsen turn over the investigation to police. The Walworth County Sheriff’s Department handled the case. The allegations made against Sepanski were:
1. He and his relatives frequently collect scrap metal (rims, rotors, exhaust systems, radiators, scrap metal, etc. and sell them for profit and keep the money.
2. He keeps 11% Rebates from Menards when purchasing items with JS dollars.
3. He purchased vehicle lifts from the old JS garage for less than they were worth and sold them for a profit.
4. He currently is storing personal items in the new JS garage taking up space that is needed for JS business.
5. He fixes his personal vehicles in the JS garage with JS tools and while being paid.
After an investigation was conducted by the Walworth County Sheriff’s investigation, theses allegations would all turn out to be true. Luckily for Sepenaki, the statute of limitations has passed, so criminal charges are not possible.
Nielsen didn’t wait until the criminal investigation was completed before he issued a one month suspension to Sepanski. Sepanski was also back to work while still being criminally investigated according to Nielsen. The members of the Executive committee seemed less than thrilled with this decision and Nielsen’s lack of candor. Supervisors Geersten and Bashaw suggested an outside consultant intervene to see how the important department is being ran. Supervisor Zach Rodriguez didn’t mince words. He told Nielsen that he didn’t believe Nielsen was running the important agency well.
Stephanie Lorenzo, the assistant director told the Walworth County Sheriff that “the only [allegation] that has been substantiated is that Pat may have kept Menards rebates… for personal use.” The agency, however conducted a very thorough investigation and interviewed at least eight witnesses and debunked Lorenzo’s findings. Lorenzo asked Sepanski about profiting from the sale of scrap metal and he was adamant that he never did. He lied to his boss right off the bat. He had the courage to lie to his boss who claimed she had had “no idea” that her husband had a cocaine problem when he overdosed in the same room as her. Sepanski would not, however, lie to law enforcement when they got involved. Sepanski also denied profiting from Menards rebates. He lied to his boss again.
He also told Lorenzo that the expensive vehicle lifts were never given to him, but given to a contractor, Ryan Conway of RC Property Works. He conveniently forgot to tell her that Conway was his cousin. After being lied to twice, Lorenzo believed Sepanski when he told her he didn’t split the money with his cousin. He admitted to the other allegations, but Joint services found that him storing personal items in the garage and fixing his personal vehicles with government property and tools was OK.
Detectives from the Walworth County Sheriff’s Office interviewed more than two employees of Joint Services that worked for Sepanski. “John” told detectives that Sepanski once made him help load up the scrap and bring it to the scrap yard in a Sheriff’s vehicle. He said they got weighed and Sepanski was given a check made out to him. John told detectives that for the last ten or so years, Sepanski’s cousin Ryan Conway came to take the scrap. John told detectives that all of the employees thought it was a conflict and he remembered one time that a scrap company was coming to get 8,000 pounds of metal, but Sepanski cancelled the pickup appointment and said “I’ll have my cousin come get it.” Another employee, “Peter” told detectives that he too was made to help Sepanski bring metal to a recycling center for money. He said he remembers one such check, made out to Sepanski was for over $450. Peter thought this was wrong, so he refused to make more trips, telling Sepanski he didn’t “want to get involved with it.” Peter said that Sepanski said he kept all of the money from the metal in a “kitty” but he didn’t believe Sepanski. In 2012, an employee of fleet maintenance was fired, allegedly because he blew the whistle on Sepanski. At that time, then-director Tom Genthner told Sepanski to stop profiting off of the metal in 2012. All parties agreed that Sepanski’s cousin Ryan Conway took scrap metal so many times, that no one knew how many. He took metal for ten years. Sepanski told his boss that he didn’t get any of the money, but his cousin told police they split it, in a recorded audio call from detectives obtained by KCE. KCE called Conway Thursday evening to see if he split the money that he made selling the lifts with his cousin Sepanski. Conway avoided questions, saying “read the reports you got.” We told him that the answer wasn’t in the reports, and he hung up on us. In 2020, Nielsen stopped allowing Conway to take the scrap and used a third party company. In an ambush interview with KCE, however, he said he never knew about the metal for money scandal:
Walworth County detectives noted in their report that the statute of limitations of three years has ran out, so Sepanski couldn’t be charged criminally. No charges could be referred to the DA’s office. As far as discipline, Sepanski was suspended without pay for one month. KCE asked Josh many questions after receiving the investigative reports.
Why did you lie about your knowledge of the misconduct?
Why do you believe that Josh didn’t split the money for the lifts with his cousin?
Why didn’t you fire Sepanski?
He didn’t answer any of our questions, but said:
“The discipline and subsequent treatment of the two individuals you have named were handled as confidential employment matters in accordance with KJS policy and in compliance with the law and appropriate legal guidance. Throughout this process we have worked to verify the allegations brought forward, report truthfully to appropriate individuals and boards, and correct any inappropriate actions or practices in order to safeguard KJS and establish best practices for the future.”
While the investigation was ongoing regarding the Menards rebates, a second employee was discovered to have used rebates for personal use as well. It was learned he did use $46.87 of JS rebates on personal items but told detectives it was a simple mistake. Unbelievable, this employee was also suspended for 30 days.