Marshfield Police Chief resigns, city agrees to pay $72,000 plus some benefits

Published: Mar. 4, 2021 at 7:49 AM CST
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MARSHFIELD, Wis. (WSAW) - The Marshfield City Council voted 8-2 Thursday morning to approve a resignation and separation agreement for Police Chief Rick Gramza.

Gramza’s resignation letter stated:

”I, Richard Gramza, hereby officially resign my position as Chief of Police for the City of Marshfield immediately upon ratification by the City of Marshfield Council of the mutually approved settlement agreement, which is scheduled to take place on March 4, 2021.”

In that agreement, Gramza will be paid his regular hourly wage of $8,708.33 per month through Aug. 31, which totals $52,249.98 for the next six months. He will also receive his straight-time hourly rate of pay for unused vacation and personal time, which totals about 394 hours or roughly $19,794.56. In addition, he will receive payment for any mileage expenses. He also will continue to receive the city’s health, dental, and vision insurance through Aug. 31.

He will not receive any sick leave benefits and he waives his right to sue the city relating to his employment. This agreement does not impact his pension or his ability to collect unemployment if the Department of Workforce Development determined him to be eligible. There is a clause in the settlement that would allow him to revoke the agreement even after signing through March 10, but that would not change his employment status with the city.

Gramza is charged with fourth-degree sexual assault and disorderly conduct. Three counts of misconduct in public office were dismissed last month after a Portage County Judge ruled there wasn’t enough evidence.

Alderperson Ken Bargender was one of two people to vote no.

“Back in December of 2020, this council by unanimous vote authorized City Administrator Steve Barg to file formal charges against Chief Gramza. Now, three months later and only days before the PFC hearing to begin, this same council is considering a voluntary separation and settlement agreement with Gramza. I believe due to the serious nature of the charges it is not in our best interest as a city to consider any time of settlement agreement before going through the hearing process. Furthermore, I don’t support any type of settlement agreement that would include additional taxpayers’ dollars,” Bargender said.

Gramza is accused of sexually assaulting a department employee on several occasions, as early as 2014 and as late as this past summer. Gramza has denied some of the victim’s more sexually aggressive complaints.

The resignation is effective immediately. The agreement states a motion will now be filed with the Fire and Police Commission to withdraw charges to initiate the end of those proceedings.

A person answering the phone on FPC president, Randy Gershman’s behalf said he is not taking any questions. 7 Investigates reached out to Mayor Bob McManus but has not heard back.

A statement from city Administrator Steve Barg released after the meeting read in part:

“The city recognizes that some may be disappointed the city is not pressing forth with the proceedings. Under the terms of an agreement, the city is providing Chief Gramza with a separation benefit, which the city believes will avoid greater litigation costs that the city would incur and litigating the charges in front of the commission and from any post-hearing appeals. This is a difficult but thoughtful and pragmatic choice that protects those individuals involved in that proceeding and saves the city significant costs. The city can now focus on its remedial efforts to ensure all employees understand that misconduct discovered is unacceptable and has no place in the city.”

7 Investigates reached out to Gramza, but has not heard back. His attorney, Paul Kinne sent a statement saying, “Chief Gramza is proud of his service to the community, and was prepared to vindicate himself before the Police & Fire Commission. But given the inevitable contentiousness of a drawn-out hearing, he concluded the best thing to do for Marshfield and his family was to step down. He looks forward to beginning the next phase of his life.”

Common Council 3-4-21

Common Council Meeting

Posted by City of Marshfield on Thursday, March 4, 2021

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