City pays after officer's crimeA Superior police officer accused of stealing from fellow officers pleaded no contest to an amended charge Tuesday.
By: Shelley Nelson, Superior Telegram
A Superior police officer accused of stealing from fellow officers pleaded no contest to an amended charge Tuesday.
Officer Kirk Babic entered the plea to misdemeanor theft — originally charged as a felony — before Bayfield County Circuit Court Judge John P. Anderson.
Anderson imposed then stayed a 10-day sentence in the local jail.
Babic will serve one-year probation and perform 80 hours of community service — 40 hours ordered through the Wisconsin Department of Corrections and 40 hours of uncompensated time through the Superior Police Department.
Babic, who was placed on paid administrative leave in early June, earned more than enough paid time off during his leave to cover the uncompensated time ordered by the judge, according to city calculations.
While Babic was on paid administrative leave, he accrued 59 hours of paid time off that can be used in 2012, according to City Attorney Frog Prell.
Babic was placed on paid administrative leave between June 8 and July 29, and again from Sept. 23 to Nov. 18, which cost the city $24,948.29 in wages and benefits. Babic used earned time off between Aug. 3 and Sept. 22 to cover his wages and benefits. In addition, Prell said, Babic has been receiving unemployment benefits at a rate of $363 per week for a portion of the time he was on unpaid leave, costs absorbed by the city. Prell estimated the unemployment costs would be $2,904 by time Babic returns to work this weekend.
Babic was ordered to pay miscellaneous court costs of $176. Restitution in the case was paid before Babic appeared before the Police and Fire Commission in November.
Former Superior Police Chief Floyd Peters sought a hearing before the commission in an effort to terminate the 20-year veteran accused of stealing from a pool fund created to support a law enforcement fitness center to which he had access. Officers voluntarily contributed to the account to maintain and purchase equipment.
While commission members found the charges leveled against Babic by the now-retired chief were sustained, the commission opted instead to put Babic on suspension for 60 days and a two-year last chance agreement rather than terminate him.
Babic is expected to return to duty with the police department Sunday, after spending Saturday in training.
Under the terms of his last chance agreement, Babic must fulfill all the terms of the sentence Anderson handed down Tuesday, which includes writing a letter of apology to each victim — officers who contributed to the account — of the Superior Police Department.
Shelley Nelson is the editor for the Superior Telegram, a newspaper owned by Forum Communications Co.