A costly line of miscommunication may award a large amount of money to a guilty party.
Former Woodmohr town board member John Seibel was charged, and pleaded no contest, to two counts of misconduct in office and one count of theft for selling trees he cut down in the town without permission in 2020. Court documents show he billed the Town of Woodmohr for the work.
He was ordered to pay restitution, however, recent proceedings have flooded the town with misinformation.
Earlier this month at the Town of Woodmohr annual meeting, planning commission chairman Steve Hilger proceeded an item for vote of the audience in attendance. He falsely stated Seibel was found not guilty on all charges and that the Town of Woodmohr should reimburse Seibel his legal fees.
After no contradictory statements were made at the meeting, the audience voted to award Seibel the $11,600 in court fees, even though he had pleaded no contest to the charges brought against him 2020.
Town Board Chairman Pete Hanson said the vote was not only a board vote and those in attendance were not fully aware of the outcome of last year’s court proceedings. He said Hilger also said Seibel charged the township $14 to cut down the trees, when in fact Seibel charged the Township $30 an hour to do so.
“At an annual board meeting, the people have more control over what happens than the board,” Hanson said. “This came off the floor, I don’t agree with what happened. I did vote on it, I agreed on it at the moment, but not long after that I knew I was wrong. It should have never happened. There weren’t enough votes there to reverse it.”
Now that it is known on the town board that Seibel was in fact guilty, and the reimbursement of fees paid out to him were paid to a guilty party, town board supervisor Tony Fanetti said the issue may come before the Town Board at its monthly meeting.
“I’m not sure if this will affect the money going out,” Fanetti said. “Yes, it was stated at the meeting by a citizen, and upon doing my own research I found that he did plead guilty on one count. I haven’t been following this very closely, but I can confirm that statement was made at the meeting. Upon my further investigation, it was a false statement.”
At the time of the annual town meeting, Seibel had not paid any of the court-ordered restitution to the township he was billed.
Hilger said he doesn’t recall the meeting proceeding the same way as other attendees, as he said the charges brought against Seibel weren’t just and he doesn’t recall saying he was found not guilty on all charges.
“I never heard anybody say he was not guilty of anything,” Hilger said. “He was not guilty of a lot of the charges that were brought against him in the beginning.”
The issue of the $11,600 paid out to Seibel is an agenda item which may be discussed next month at the next Town of Woodmohr board meeting.