No Charges Filed Despite County Highway Dept. Allegations

A week after four Columbia County employees lost their jobs over alleged misconduct, a special prosecutor said charges won’t be filed over possible criminal offenses because the statute of limitations has expired.

WISC-TV obtained legal documents alleging Columbia County Highway Commissioner Kurt Dey was responsible for the majority of the alleged misconduct and possible criminal activity. The documents showed that others were also fired because they allegedly knew what Dey was doing and didn’t report it.

According to the Department of Justice documents, there are many accusations — some accusing Dey of using county employees on county time to perform work at his personal residence. The documents also allege theft of gravel, salt and firewood from the county.

Despite the Department of Justice findings, a special prosecutor concluded all of the possible criminal offenses happened well outside the statute of limitations, some as long as 15 years ago.

A former employee acted as a whistleblower and alerted authorities about the possible criminal activity.

As WISC-TV reported on Friday, Dey and three others were let go last week. The commissioner resigned, and the three other upper-level managers — T.O. Bogue, James Cross and Teresa Kleifgen — were fired after nearly 11 weeks on paid administrative leave.

Last week, Columbia County Board Chair Robert Westby said internal action was absolutely warranted.

“I know this doesn’t look good for Columbia County, but to do nothing — we would really look bad,” Westby said. “There’s enough people out there that people are saying, ‘How come they didn’t do anything?’ Well, we have. We’ve taken a drastic step, no question about it.”

The documents also allege Dey and others were tampering with the county scales so that when a outside agency or business was purchasing a truckload of sand, salt or gravel from the county, they would pay more and receive less material. The special prosecutor, again, said this alleged activity happened outside the statute of limitations and is not prosecutable.

This is the last part of a months-long investigation, dating to October, and now this is a closed case. Westby said the county will start searching for a new highway commissioner very soon.