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Criminal Charges for Former Waupun Warden, Evers Pushes for Ongoing Investigations

Criminal Charges for Former Waupun Warden, Evers Pushes for Ongoing Investigations

June 6, 2024 12:15 PM CDT

By: Stuart J. Wattles

WAUPUN, Wis. (Civic Media) – The former warden at Waupun Correctional Institution is facing criminal charges and the governor wants investigations to continue. The arrest comes after four inmate deaths occurred during Randall Hepp’s tenure in a single year, while eight former staff members are accused of felony abuse.

Hepp has been charged with misconduct in public office by prosecutors in Dodge County, where the maximum-security state prison is located. One of the inmate deaths in 2022 has been ruled a homicide after the prisoner died from malnourishment when his water was turned off.

The charges against Hepp and the former correctional officers come amid ongoing internal investigations by the Wisconsin Department of Corrections and a separate federal law enforcement probe requested last year by Gov. Tony Evers.

In a statement Wednesday, Evers announced he has directed the DOC to continue its internal investigations into deaths of incarcerated individuals until they are “thoroughly completed.” He has further instructed the agency to provide its findings to the Dodge County Sheriff’s Office for potential additional charges.

“Each and every person who’s failed to do their job to the high level that we expect or treat people in our care with the dignity, humanity, and respect they deserve should be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law,” Evers said. “There must be accountability and justice.”

The governor also ordered the DOC to publicly release the full results of its internal investigations, as permitted by state and federal laws, once the release would not jeopardize any ongoing law enforcement probes.

Dodge County Sheriff Dale Schmidt had indicated his office’s investigation was complete with the filing of charges this week.

Last June, Evers and corrections officials sought federal assistance to investigate a suspected conspiracy involving the smuggling of contraband like cell phones, drugs and other prohibited items into the Waupun prison. That investigation remains open.

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