Criminal law

Smith addresses Madison council over witness tampering allegations in ongoing criminal case | News


Madison — Madison City Council convened Wednesday night in special session to discuss the ongoing criminal case against utility supervisor James Lewis and his alleged misappropriation of city resources.

According to an official report released in May by state auditor Mike Foley, Lewis is accused of using city equipment, employees, and vehicles in order to complete his personal home, among other charges. The report also alleged that Lewis carried out many of these illegal activities while in town, when he was said to be working.

On Wednesday, District Attorney Joe Smith addressed council members about the case and the implications of witness tampering or intimidation, which he says are likely to happen.

“One of the charges is the tampering charge,” Smith said. “As you will recall, those of you who watched the review, there were some allegations that witnesses were told what to say and what not to say; Not by all of you, but by someone else.”

The charges against Lewis are felony counts of theft over $5,000. Smith said law enforcement officials were informed of the tampering charges based on letters sent to the attorney general’s office.

“Many of the people here are witnesses… and most of your office staff are as well,” Smith said.

He added that although he realizes that such cases have been difficult because of Lewis’ personal history with the city, attempts to influence witnesses in one way or another must stop.

“What I would like to see happen… is for all side issues to stop in this case. I have a lot of cases. “This is not a complicated issue,” Smith said. “We need to put feelings and relationships aside.”

Per Smith, many witnesses were pressed to testify in the case, some of whom even feared retaliation from the city. He explained that his desire was to help the city through this situation, but if there were further reports of witness tampering by any individuals, there was the possibility of legal action being taken against those responsible.

Madison City Attorney Mike Brogan thanked Smith for coming to address the council.

“I appreciate you coming to talk to the city, the council, the mayor and the staff. We hope it has a calming effect,” Brogan said. “I want you to know that the City of Madison upholds law and order in this county and especially this city. We stand behind the police.”

Brogan said that in a city the size of Madison; However, there were many alliances and friendships, and it was difficult for the people there not to support their “person”. Brogan said he tried to explain to people in the city that Smith’s office was just trying to do its job as county attorney.

Two council members, Paul Killeen and Steve Ainsworth, questioned Smith about the allegations of tampering and said they wanted to move the matter out entirely.

“I’d like to see us move on from this and take it off the agenda. It’s been voted down by us,” Ainsworth said. “…This keeps coming up more and more. It’s passed to you, so I guess it’s out of our hands.

Smith said he wants to help the city move forward, too, but that at some point, he’ll have to act if allegations of tampering don’t stop.

In response to the alleged theft, Madison City officials issued a disciplinary warrant against Lewis and ordered him to repay $390. The Foley report called the city’s response to the theft “bizarre” because less than a month after Lewis made compensation, the city refunded him the same amount, allegedly as compensation for the equipment rental.

Specific charges against Lewis include misuse of city property, falsifying time records, threatening or intimidating city employees, directing city employees to lie and cover up facts in the case, using city employees and vehicles during business hours and using a city fee account with Menards and then personally taking advantage of the rebates.

Neither Foley nor Smith’s report confirmed the actual dollar amount of Lewis’ alleged robbery. The case is now in county court, but Smith said it will move to county court as a felony case.

All city council members attended the meeting, with the exception of Rick Schumer. Louis also did not attend the meeting. No official action was taken in this regard during the session.


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