Schimel: Pergande deal still on
Waukesha — Waukesha County District Attorney Brad Schimel said he is still willing to accept a plea agreement from former Butler Police Lt. Brian Pergande even though Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge Donald J. Hassin Jr turned down a previous agreement reached between Schimel and Pergande's attorney Michael Steinle.
On July 18, Hassin would not accept Pergande's plea of "no contest" to disorderly conduct charges that related to an incident in September of 2009 when Pergande allegedly took inappropriate photos of a woman he had improperly detained at the Butler Village Police Department. Pergande resigned from the Butler police department and offered the plea in exchange for Schimel dropping charges of felony official misconduct, which carried a potential prison sentence and fine.
Schimel said he has contacted Steinle and told him he is still willing to carry out the plea agreement if a judge will agree. Otherwise, Schimel said both sides will have to start preparing for a trial in October.
Schimel emphasized that Pergande still has the right to seek a jury trial on the felony charges despite his "no contest" plea to the disorderly conduct charges.
However, Schimel said Pergande may have to do more to convince the judge that he engaged in disorderly conduct when he took the photos.
Schimel said he did not think Hassin was satisfied that the elements of a disorderly conduct charge were present enough after Pergande explained his plea.
According to state law, a person commits disorderly conduct by engaging in a violent, abusive, indecent, or unreasonably loud action that tends to disturb or provoke others.
At one point during the court session, Hassin said Pergande's description of why he took the pictures "makes no sense."
Pergande said he took photographs of the woman because he was referring her to another police agency to assist them in drug investigations.
He said apparently the woman was uncomfortable with the way he was taking the pictures.
Pergande told police investigators that someone had cropped and edited the photos to emphasize the woman's breasts. The photos were discovered in former Butler Police Chief Michael Cosgrove's computer during an investigation of Cosgrove and the department conducted by the Waukesha County Sheriff's office.
Cosgrove retired in the midst of the investigation and Pergande was placed on paid administrative leave for more than a year awaiting possible criminal charges.
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