Marshfield police chief makes initial court appearance; Council to consider his status with city
By Hub City Times staff
MARSHFIELD – A Portage County judge is scheduled to hear evidence against Marshfield’s police chief next month, as Marshfield aldermen consider his status with the city next week.
During an initial Wood County court appearance on Dec. 23, visiting Judge Thomas Eagon scheduled a Jan. 13 preliminary hearing for 47-year-old Rick Gramza, who is facing three felony counts of misconduct in office for acting with excessive authority, one misdemeanor count of fourth-degree sexual assault and one misdemeanor count of disorderly conduct.
The charges are based on an outside investigation conducted by the Eau Claire Police Department.
Gramza remains free on a $10,000 signature bond. He is to have no contact with the alleged victim, except as it relates to his official duties at the Marshfield Police Department, and then only incidental contact supervised by the assistant police chief.
Defense attorney Gary Kryshak asked for and was granted that stipulation during Wednesday’s court proceeding, in case Gramza gets called back to the department to continue his duties as police chief. However, the Marshfield Common Council has scheduled a special meeting for next Dec. 29, at which time City Administrator Steve Barg says aldermen will adjourn to closed session to consider authorizing him to proceed with filing employment-related charges against the chief with the Marshfield Fire & Police Commission.
“Hypothetically), you can probably imagine a scenario where somebody might be charged with a crime, and they may be guilty, they may not be guilty; but in the midst of it, they might violate personnel policies and if they did, what does that add up to? Does that add up to suspension? Termination?” Barg said.
“Picture this as kind of the employment side of the equation. And that’s what it is called. It’s called filing charges, which is kind of confusing, because you think about charges being filed by law enforcement agencies and DAs (district attorneys), not city administrators. But, it would be called filing charges with the PFC (police & fire commission) if we were asking them to consider some type of potentially disciplinary action.”
Gramza, who turns 48 on Jan. 8, was placed on paid administrative leave in mid-August, after a female police officer brought the allegations against the chief, stating they date back to December of 2015.
Gramza has acknowledged a sexual relationship with the employee and told investigators the contact was consensual.
If convicted on all five charges against him, Gramza faces more than 11 years in prison, fines of more than $40,000 or both.