Police chief charged in bizarre feud with tea party leader
The Wis. chief pleaded no contest to a charge that he signed a local tea party leader up on gay dating, pornography and federal health care websites
LA CROSSE, Wis. — A police chief in Wisconsin pleaded no contest Friday to a charge that he signed a local tea party leader up on gay dating, pornography and federal health care websites.
Prosecutors charged Town of Campbell Police Chief Tim Kelemen earlier this month with one misdemeanor count of unlawful use of a computerized communication system. The La Crosse Tribune reported Kelemen entered the plea in a deal that calls for the charge to be dismissed in two years if he doesn't commit any new crimes, continues counseling and completes 40 hours of community service.
The charge stems from a feud between Kelemen and tea party leader Greg Luce. It began last fall when the tea party began holding protests on an interstate overpass in Campbell. Concerned the protests were distracting drivers, Kelemen persuaded the town board to ban signs on the bridge.
Kelemen told investigators Luce urged tea party supporters across the U.S. to bombard his department with harassing phone calls and threats in retaliation for the ordinance.
Kelemen told investigators he tried to get back at Luce this winter by using his name, address, phone number and email address to create accounts for Luce on homosexual dating, pornography and federal health care websites. He told investigators he didn't think what he was doing was a big deal.
La Crosse police turned the case over to Monroe County authorities.
Luce told Monroe County Circuit Judge David Rice on Friday that Kelemen is getting away with a "slap on the wrist." He said he thinks Kelemen has suffered a psychological breakdown and shouldn't be allowed to carry a gun or wear a badge again.
Kelemen didn't address the court.
Luce has filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging the sign ordinance violates his free speech rights and demanding damages from Kelemen for stealing his identity. The town board has placed Kelemen on paid leave.
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