MPD lieutenant under investigation for fraudulent vaccination records may avoid discipline

MPD Fraudulent vaccination record investigation
Posted at 10:40 AM, Apr 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-18 10:41:37-04

Watch this I-Team report Thursday on TMJ4 News at 10 p.m.

MILWAUKEE — The I-Team has learned a Milwaukee police lieutenant is scheduled to retire next month and could avoid discipline if an investigation is not completed by then.

Lt. Branko Stojsavljevic is under investigation by the Inspector General and Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) Internal Affairs for violating department COVID-19 vaccination policies to help two officers attend out-of-state training in 2021. The I-Team obtained Stojsavljevic’s application for retirement with the City of Milwaukee Employee's Retirement System he filed on Feb. 27, saying he intends to retire on May 15.

The I-Team first aired a story about the investigation 13 days before he filed the form on Feb. 14.

If the MPD Internal Affairs investigation is not completed by the time he retires, the investigation will stop.

According to a Milwaukee police spokesperson, “If a member resigns or retired in the midst of an investigation, the case is closed as 'member resigned-investigation pending', and the investigation stops at that point. If the member ever applies for employment in the future, the case is reopened.”

The investigation from the Milwaukee Inspector General’s Office is also at a standstill. Ronda Kohlheim confirmed the investigation into Stojsavljevic and two other members in January. At the time, she anticipated the investigation would be completed in two to three weeks.

It’s now been over three months. At the time, Kohlheim told the I-Team she was waiting for a disposition and other additional information from MPD Internal Affairs before she can complete her report. Now, she has no timeline for when the report will be finished as she’s still waiting for information from MPD Internal Affairs.

However, there’s a new wrinkle about why the investigation has hit a roadblock. According to Milwaukee police, Stojsavljevic is currently on leave for unspecified reasons.

Kohlheim says, “The Milwaukee Police Department’s practice is, whenever a member of their department is on leave, a member cannot be served regarding the investigation until they return to work, which is the reason my investigation is not complete.”

If the investigation is not completed before Stojsavljevic retires on May 15, it is estimated he will make $6,759.08 per month, which translates to $81,108.96 per year.

Ed Fallone, Chair of the Milwaukee Fire & Police Commission (FPC), would not comment on this case specifically. He says the role of the FPC is to focus on the oversight of active police officers and firefighters.

“I can understand some people feeling processes should move more quickly,” Fallone said. “But the reality is, these things take time and we have to allow for processes to play out and individuals to exercise their rights. One of their rights is to resign employment.”

“There’s always a balance between the Fire and Police Commission’s role in overseeing departments and ensuring we have police officers and firefighters who are people of honesty and integrity with the due process rights of our officers and firefighters,” Fallone said of the process in general. “Just because they’re under investigation, we can’t jump to conclusions. We have to wait for investigations to come to an end.”

In February, the Inspector General asked us not to name the lieutenant or other MPD members involved due to the ongoing investigation, but with the investigation stalled and news of Stojsavljevic’s placement on leave and pending retirement, the I-Team has decided to name his involvement in the investigation.

The Milwaukee Police Department issued the following statement in response to our I-Team report:

"On February 16, 2022, the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) issued a press release regarding the first piece clarifying a false statement that three individuals “will be disciplined” for allegedly creating and using fraudulent COVID-19 vaccinations records to attend out of state training. Because the investigation was, and still is, under investigation it was, and still is, inaccurate to declare any member “will be disciplined.”

Traditionally, MPD does not address open internal investigations, let alone on two separate occasions. However, once again due to the nature of the reporting on this case and the seriousness of the allegations, it is important to once again clarify the record.

First, the new story asserts that the Inspector General cannot complete the Inspector General’s investigation because MPD cannot serve an internal investigation related document on a member who is on a leave of absence. This is inaccurate. There are limited circumstances that a member may be served while on leave of absence. That information had been relayed to the Inspector General three days prior to the release of this news story. In fact, MPD has attempted on several occasions to serve this member while on leave of absence.

Second, MPD’s internal investigation and any investigation by the Inspector General are governed by separate rules, overseen by separate bodies and maintain their own unique timelines. There is nothing that precludes the Inspector General from completing that investigation without receiving the work product of MPD’s internal investigation and vice versa.

Third, while it is true, the investigation includes an allegation that a member falsely created a vaccination card, as of the release of this press release, MPD is not aware of any evidence to support that allegation.

Finally, the Milwaukee Police Department takes all of our internal investigations extremely seriously and holds our members to the highest level of integrity. If a member violates the code of conduct they will be held accountable."

MPD declined multiple requests for interviews related to this story because of the ongoing investigation.

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