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Sonia Kubesh resigned from the Roberts Police Department following an internal investigation. She signed a mutual employment separation agreement with the Village of Roberts on Nov. 12. <i>Gretta Stark photo</i>

Roberts officer resigns following investigation

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Roberts officer resigns following investigation
River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

Sonia Kubesh has resigned from the Roberts Police Department following an internal investigation presented to the Village Board by Police Chief Daniel Burgess during a closed session at the Oct. 25 regular board meeting.

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"I did not foresee this coming to an end this way," Kubesh said in an interview last week. "It had been a strong thought and intention of mine to possibly retire from the village of Roberts as a patrol officer."

Kubesh signed a mutual employment separation and release agreement with Willard Moeri, Roberts Village Board president, on Nov. 12.

According to the agreement Kubesh would resign from her job as a police officer in Roberts and agreed to waive any and all rights to notice and appeal under her employment agreement or under any other law or basis.

The village agreed to pay Kubesh her salary at the existing rate through Dec. 31, pay her for all unused comp time, accrued holiday pay, one additional floating holiday and vacation leave, provide Kubesh with a neutral reference for future employment, and agree not to contest filing for unemployment compensation by Kubesh.

According to an investigation, Burgess said he noticed on Aug. 27, 2012, that Kubesh had written no citations and given four warnings in July and no citations and only two warnings in August.

Burgess decided to install a GPS device in the village's main squad car with which he would spot-check the officers' on-duty whereabouts and activities, according to the report.

Kubesh was, at that point, working under a "last chance" agreement. Kubesh subject to a prior internal investigation in June 2011, which alleged Kubesh had improperly used the village credit card, violated policy and been untruthful.

The last-chance agreement was offered to Kubesh in lieu of termination, according to Burgess's report.

The terms of the agreement were that Kubesh would not "engage in any misrepresentation of the truth," violate any Wisconsin statutes or Village of Roberts ordinances, commit "any act of misconduct or gross misconduct as specified in the Village Personnel Policy or Roberts Police Department Policy," violate any Village of Roberts rules and procedures relating to expense reimbursement, or use the village credit card without authorization for the duration of the agreement. The duration of the agreement was July 12, 2011 to July 12, 2013.

Burgess installed the GPS device in the Roberts Police Department's main squad car on Sept. 7, 2012, beginning his investigation.

Burgess conducted an investigative interview with Kubesh based on GPS information. Burgess states in his report that he found Kubesh had violated several rules, explained below.

Neglect of duty

In the report, Burgess states that he believes Kubesh was engaged in personal business and/or other activities causing her to be inattentive to her duties.

On Sept. 9, Sept. 10, Sept. 11, Sept. 25, Sept 26, Sept 27, Sept. 28, Oct. 4 and Oct.6, Kubesh was "sitting idly in remote areas of the village," for three to four hours at a time, according to Burgess's report.

"It was a standard practice of mine to park the squad car and engage in foot patrol," Kubesh responded last week. She said foot patrol allowed her to "observe any activity that might be unobservable in the capacity of using a squad car."

In his investigative report, Burgess said he found it poor judgment for Kubesh to park the squad car in remote areas.

"The squad was stopped for long periods of time in places where it was non-visible and not performing duties associated with police work," Burgess claimed.

"I felt I was engaged in activities which ensured the security of the community," Kubesh contended.

Leaving duty post

Burgess's report also alleges that Kubesh violated a Roberts Police Department rule against leaving the village boundaries without a need or official reason. Burgess's report states that Kubesh travelled five to eight miles outside the limits almost daily.

Kubesh contended she did this as a public service, when things were "quiet" in the village.

"At times I'd come across loose livestock or a disabled vehicle," Kubesh said. "It wasn't ever anything with any sort of intent to abandon the needs of the community."

Requests for Assistance

Burgess's report alleges that on Sept. 19 Kubesh ignored a request for assistance. Kubesh was assigned to check the area of 317 Dakota Ave. for suspicious activity.

The GPS unit indicated that Kubesh did not enter the subdivision where 317 Dakota is located on Sept. 19, according to Burgess's report.

Kubesh said she believes she erroneously checked the area of an alternative address.

According to Burgess's report, Kubesh told him in the investigative interview, she had mistakenly investigated 217 Dakota Ave. According to Burgess's report, there is no 217 Dakota Ave. in the Village of Roberts.

Departmental reports

Burgess's report also alleges Kubesh filed two departmental reports that contained false information.

According to the investigative report, Kubesh filed a departmental report stating she had checked the area of 317 Dakota Ave. on Sept. 19 and observed nothing out of the ordinary. According to Burgess's investigative report, GPS indicates Kubesh did not enter the area of 317 Dakota Ave. on Sept. 19.

According to the investigative report, Kubesh also filed a departmental report stating she helped the Wisconsin State patrol direct traffic around a car accident on Interstate 94 on Sept. 20.

GPS shows Kubesh was not in the area of the crash on Sept. 20, and seven separate State Troopers reported that Kubesh did not assist them at the time of the accident, according to Burgess's report.

Kubesh said she assisted the Roberts Fire Department with traffic control as they left the fire hall to respond to the traffic accident, but did not provide traffic direction at the scene of the accident.

She said the issue was one of clarity, rather than untruthfulness.

"My intent wasn't to be dishonest," Kubesh said. "The context in which I wrote the report needed to be more clear."

Truthfulness

The final allegation in the investigative was that Kubesh had been untruthful on numerous occasions.

These instances include the previously mentioned alleged false reports, and an instance in which Kubesh allegedly informed Burgess she had tried to call him to request sick leave earlier in the day, but his phone had not gone to voicemail.

According to the report, Kubesh admitted during the investigative interview that she had not told the truth about the phone call.

Other instances of alleged untruthfulness took place during the investigative interview after Kubesh was informed she was compelled to tell the truth, according to the investigative report, which included a transcript of the interview. The alleged untruths were as follows:

  • Kubesh said she spoke to a State Trooper at the intersection of Wisconsin Highway 65 and 70th Avenue (near Interstate 94). According to the investigative report, "this did not occur."
  • Kubesh said she was uncertain if she had filed a report indicating she had assisted the Wisconsin State Patrol in directing traffic so a crash could be cleared from Interstate 94 on Sept. 20. Later in the investigative interview, Kubesh quoted the report, according the Burgess's investigative report. A copy of Kubesh's report regarding the crash on I-94 is included with the investigative report.
  • Kubesh allegedly stated on several occasions that she had mistakenly checked the area of 217 Dakota Ave. rather than 317 Dakota Ave. for suspicious persons. The report states there is no 217 Dakota Ave. in Roberts.
  • When asked why she had little self-initiated activity (traffic citations, etc.), Kubesh allegedly said, "I've been out looking but haven't found a lot." GPS indicated Kubesh spent around four hours per shift doing non-work activities, according to Burgess's report.
  • Kubesh said she had only driven "a couple of miles" outside the village. According to the investigative report, Kubesh has driven up to eight miles outside the village. Further, Kubesh said she did not leave the village limits during patrol daily, though according to the investigative report, she did leave the village during her patrol, almost daily.

Kubesh was surprised her honesty had been questioned.

"I feel I am honest," Kubesh said. "The context of the wording of my reports may not have been as clear as they could have been."

Conclusions

Burgess concluded, based on the investigative report, that Kubesh had violated the terms of the "last chance" agreement, and recommended that she be discharged from her position as police officer, prompting the board to approve offering Kubesh a severance package, if she chose to resign.

Kubesh said she enjoyed being a police officer, but admitted she had made mistakes during her employment at the Roberts Police Department.

"I accept responsibility for my actions and I appreciate the support that I have received from the community, from coworkers," Kubesh said. "I don't want this, in any way, to reflect negatively on the village or its citizens."

Kubesh worked for the Roberts Police Department from 2000 to 2012. She said she's unsure about future plans, but if possible, she would like to work again in law enforcement.

Link to a letter to the editor addressing this situation: www.readerletter.com

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Gretta Stark
Gretta Stark has been a reporter for the River Falls Journal since July of 2013. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Richmond News from June 2012 to July 2013. She holds a BA in Print and Electronic Media from Wartburg College.
(715) 426-1048
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