Documents show Middleton employee used public works garage to run business for 10 years
MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - There are new policy changes in Middleton after an investigation finds taxpayer money has been misused after an employee ran his personal snowplowing business out of a city garage for at least a decade. Open records show an internal city investigation into Middleton’s former public works utility foreman, Ryan Madigan, who is no longer employed by the city.
Eleven separate videos were recorded in total and turned over to Middleton’s Human Resources Department. In the videos, Madigan can be seen outside of business hours with cars that don’t belong to the city. The former foreman is seen going back and forth from a city fuel locker, moving fuel tanks to and from the private vehicles.
The investigation shows Madigan was accused of three things: theft of fuel from the city of Middleton MOC, theft of MOC equipment, specifically shovels, and operating a personal for-profit business out of the City MOC using city equipment and resources.
Despite the videos, the investigation, headed by Middleton City Administrator Bryan Gadow, found the first two claims to be unsubstantiated, but the third was substantiated. Records show Madigan had been running his personal snow plow business out of the Middleton Operations Center for at least ten years. The investigation found this went unreported until someone else in his department placed a hidden camera in the garage for surveillance outside of business hours.
“We are the stewards of the taxpayers’ money and resources, and we want to make sure everyone understands clear expectations going forward,” said Gadow.
Gadow says even with the video evidence, there was not enough to prove Madigan stole fuel. But the investigative documents say “it is likely” fuel was taken.
When asked how this went undetected by the city for so long, Gadow said he wasn’t sure, but points to recent leadership changes over the last few years and a swift and thorough investigation once evidence was brought to city leaders.
“I think when this complaint came to our desk, it really gave us the opportunity to really look into things that had been going on put a clear mark in the sand that practice going forward. That sort of thing will not be tolerated any further,” said Gadow.
With the allegations proven, Gadow looked to city policy for guidance on discipline. It turns out, using taxpayer property for personal use wasn’t explicitly against Middleton city rules.
“Our policy, and this might not be unique to Middleton maybe other communities, was more focused on intellectual property. It didn’t have much to say about physical structures and equipment the city owns and operates,” explained Gadow.
Now the city is changing the rules, setting clear, legally binding expectations that city owned equipment and facilities are just that, to try to prevent the situation from happening again.
And for the questionable fuel rearrangements, Gadow says if additional information comes forward, there might be another investigation.
After the investigation, Madison’s supervisor, the Director of Public Works, Shawn Stauske, wrote a letter to Madigan saying if he didn’t resign for running a private business out of city property, he would be fired. Madigan resigned, and the city paid him $30,000 for 467 hours of work he said he did off the clock. Gadow says there is also new policy which addresses how overtime hours are approved because of this payout.
Stauske was also put on six months probation for not reporting or investigating what was going on, according to records.
Over the past month, NBC15 Investigates called, emailed, and left messages for Madigan for comment. Madigan has yet to respond.
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