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Official's suspension has ties to e-mail

The Wisconsin Department of Justice official suspended last week is linked to an e-mail about fellow employees that managers deemed threatening, according to a letter.

The Wisconsin Department of Justice official suspended last week is linked to an e-mail about fellow employees that managers deemed threatening, according to a letter.

It suggests the e-mail was either sent or received by Carolyn Kelly, the suspended director of the department's special assignments bureau and state fire marshal.

The e-mail is part of an investigation into "possible misconduct" by an employee and won't be immediately released, according to the letter, signed by Dean Stensberg, the department official in charge of handling requests for documents from the public.

The letter, released on Saturday, doesn't say whether the e-mail or the investigation is connected to Kelly's suspension on Jan. 28.

Kevin St. John, a spokesman for Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, declined to comment on the suspension or elaborate on the letter, which the Justice Department provided to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in response to an open records request.

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Kelly declined to comment on the letter, and said she has not had contact with Justice officials regarding the circumstances of her suspension since she was notified of it last week.

Kelly has confirmed she is on paid administrative leave. Her salary is $87,107.

As director of the special assignments bureau, she oversaw agents who assisted local law enforcement investigating murder cases and police shootings, among other things. Agents she supervised responded to the October murders of six people in Crandon by an off-duty sheriff's deputy, and she was part of a team reviewing law enforcement's handling of the situation. The deputy, Tyler Peterson, killed himself hours after the rampage.

A report on the matter is expected to be released on Thursday.

Dan Bach, a former deputy attorney general who is Kelly's lawyer, said he has not seen the e-mail referenced in the letter and that Kelly has not been given a specific reason for her suspension.

"We're mystified by this," Bach said. "She's been a 25-year employee with absolutely a stellar record."

Kelly has been on maternity leave for several weeks, and was still at home when she was notified of the suspension, Bach said.

Kelly's suspension is the second move involving high-level officials in the Division of Criminal Investigation. DCI administrator Jim Warren resigned on Jan. 2, saying in an e-mail his year under Van Hollen had been "very difficult."

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-- Copyright © 2008, Wisconsin State Journal/Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

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