Public, personal conflicts flare in Lisbon — (The Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinal)

Original article no longer available

The Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinal

By JACQUELINE SEIBEL and MIKE JOHNSON,  jseibel@journalsentinel.com

Posted: June 12, 2007

Supervisor charged in domestic dispute; meeting interrupted

Lisbon – More turmoil has flared in Lisbon town government, with one supervisor charged with a felony involving a domestic dispute and with two supervisors walking out of a Town Board meeting in protest of Chairman Michael Reed’s criticism of them related to police issues.

Supervisor James Stadler was charged Tuesday in Waukesha County Circuit Court with brandishing a loaded weapon during a dispute with his wife, Lynn Stadler, who had filed for divorce Friday.

Stadler is charged with felony intimidation of a victim while using a dangerous weapon because he prevented his wife from calling authorities to report the domestic dispute, according to a criminal complaint filed in the case.

He also is charged with five misdemeanors: pointing a firearm at a person during a domestic dispute; three counts of possession of a switchblade; and disorderly conduct with use of a dangerous weapon.

If Stadler, whose bail was set at $50,000, is convicted of all the charges, he faces up to about 18 years in prison.

According to the Sheriff’s Department, the criminal complaint filed in the case and a restraining order that Lynn Stadler was granted:

Authorities were called to the Stadler residence in the N82-W22100 block of Dubnicka Drive about 3:40 p.m. Friday on a complaint about a man with a gun.

At the residence, the Stadlers’ 15-year-old daughter told authorities that James Stadler said he was going to kill himself and “that he would do it in the closet so that he could get blood all over” his wife’s clothing, ruining them.

The daughter said she saw Stadler get a handgun, load a magazine into it and walk toward a bedroom.

Lynn Stadler, 38, filed for divorce Friday and a temporary restraining order Monday.

According to her statement asking for the restraining order, what occurred Friday was the culmination of a year of discord. A divorce had been discussed in the past, but James Stadler threatened to run up “six figures” of debt so they would have to file bankruptcy.

When she informed James Stadler on Friday that she had filed for divorce, he said, “I know what I need to do.” He told his oldest daughter to take the couple’s 2-year-old daughter for a walk after he retrieved the gun, court records say.

Lynn Stadler reached for the phone to call 911, and she contends he waved the gun at her, told her not to touch the phone and unplugged it. She grabbed her purse and keys and went outside. She put the girls in the car and called police with a cell phone, court records say.

Lisbon Police Chief Terry Martorano said his department received the 911 call but turned it over to the Sheriff’s Department to avoid any conflict of interest.

In court Tuesday, James Stadler told Commissioner Martin Binn: “I am ashamed of my conduct. I’m extremely embarrassed.”

He said his behavior was the result of being without sleep for 56 hours and the combination of prescription drugs he was taking, including anti-depressants and a drug for restless leg syndrome.

Before being elected to the Town Board in April, Stadler was an on-call humane officer for Sussex and Lisbon. He had worked for Badgerland Security Co. but was let go early last week, Badgerland security officer Clyde Hoag said. Stadler said he was fired Friday.

Reed called Stadler’s arrest “a shock to us all.” He said he wasn’t prepared to comment on Stadler’s future on the board.

Walking out

Meanwhile, on Monday night, Supervisors Ronald Fricke and Robert Williams walked out of the Town Board meeting shortly after it started when Reed criticized them for standing in the way of possibly contracting with the Sheriff’s Department for police services.

When they left, the only board member remaining at the meeting was Reed. Stadler was in jail and Supervisor Matthew Gehrke had been excused.

Reed had said the town could save $210,000 a year by disbanding the town Police Department and contracting with the Sheriff’s Department.

Fricke, in an interview Tuesday, said he and Williams wanted a committee formed to assess police services, including the proposal from the Sheriff’s Department, and costs. Fricke said Reed’s figure on the saving was suspect and that the saving was greatly overstated.

During the meeting, Reed said “boards send things to committees for mostly self-serving reasons:”

At that point, Williams said, “That’s it. I’m out of here. . . . You’re not insulting me like this.”

Fricke also left the meeting, leaving the board without the minimum three members necessary to conduct business. Reed, nonetheless, continued speaking for another 10 minutes and then closed the meeting, saying the Town Board was elected to make the “tough decisions” and “to pass it off to yet another committee” is “abdicating your responsibilities as public officials.”