Taylor County deputy on paid administrative leave for 5 years set to retire

After five years of being on paid administrative leave, the Taylor County Sheriff asked in a...
After five years of being on paid administrative leave, the Taylor County Sheriff asked in a letter for demoted deputy, Steve Bowers, who is charged with misconduct in office, to come back to duty.(WSAW Emily Davies)
Published: May. 19, 2022 at 4:19 PM CDT
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Medford, Wis. (WSAW) - After an offer to come back to work following five years of paid administrative leave, demoted Taylor County deputy Steve Bowers has officially opted to retire.

In April, Taylor County Sheriff Larry Woebbeking asked Bowers in a letter to return for duty starting May 6. Sheriff Woebbeking said it was a financial decision, as they were paying Bowers for five years not to do his job, adding that he was fully confident in Bowers’ ability to do the job well.

Bowers told 7 Investigates shortly after he received the letter that he would likely retire, saying he did not know how he could go back to a place where he did not trust them nor did they trust him.

Sheriff Woebbeking and Bowers signed a formal agreement stating that Bowers would retire. His last official day of employment with the county will be June 23, exactly 29 years from when he started working at the sheriff’s office.

The agreement states that Bowers would remain on paid administrative leave through May 8, after which he would use a portion of his unused paid vacation leave and paid personal leave through June 23. Those hours total to 276 hours of vacation and personal time off. In addition, he will be paid the remaining balance of his vacation time, totaling 228 hours at his hourly $29.41 rate, equating to $6,705.48.

Per the union’s collective bargaining agreement, 75% of his unused sick leave balance, which comes to a total of $14,116.80 will be deposited into his employee retirement savings plan.

The agreement also states that neither the county nor Bowers can sue each other related to Bowers’ employment separation. Bowers also cannot work for the county in the future.

7 Investigates asked Bowers if he had any comment on the agreement and ultimate decision. He replied through email, “I’m not sure there’s much left to say other than they’ve spent more time, money and effort trying to destroy my career and get rid of me over the past 5 (sic) years than they did to try to solve these homicides. I’d say I hope they can live with themselves but obviously their behavior and priorities don’t seem to bother them. They have no integrity and they certainly have no honor.”

7 Investigates also asked Sheriff Woebbeking if he wanted to comment but did not respond back ahead of the publishing of this report. It will be updated should that change.

As for the criminal case, it is ongoing. Bowers is accused of sharing cold case files with producers of a true-crime show the county was working with without permission. It is currently in the State Court of Appeals after the circuit court judge in the case made a determination on part of the case, which would not allow the state to use key pieces of evidence.

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