Thursday, May 22, 2014

DNR-requested independent probe results in charges against former warden

By: Joanne M. Haas/Bureau of Law Enforcement

A former Department of Natural Resources conservation warden was charged in Sauk County Circuit Court with felony theft and felony misconduct in public office following an independent State Capitol Police investigation requested by DNR officials.

Monroe County District Attorney Kevin Croninger, who is serving as the special prosecutor in this case, filed the charges against Dave Horzewski, who was a conservation warden based in Sauk County until his termination in July 2013.

DNR officials found evidence of misconduct following Horzewski’s termination and requested the State Capitol Police conduct an independent investigation.

Chief Conservation Warden Todd Schaller said Horzewski’s alleged actions are not acceptable to the public or the law enforcement community and do not align with the values of the Wisconsin Conservation Warden Service.

“We are accountable for our actions – period,” Schaller said. “When the potential misconduct was discovered, we turned it over to State Capitol Police for investigation.”

Schaller, a warden for 25 years before being named chief in January, said the DNR is unable to comment about the case as it is pending in court. He referred all questions to Monroe County District Attorney Croninger.

“The wardens consider the public their partners in protecting the natural resources and the people who enjoy them,” Schaller said. “Maintaining the public’s trust is our highest priority. We take that responsibility seriously.”

A criminal complaint is a document accusing a person of a violation of criminal law -- merely a formal method of charging an individual and does not constitute inference of his or her guilt. The public is reminded an individual is presumed innocent until such time, if ever, that the government establishes his or her guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

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