Rhinelander City Administrator Arrested After Search, Investigation

Daniel Guild Arrested On Suspicion Of Misconduct In Public Office Following Months Of Investigation

Rhinelander City Hall
Investigators from the Oneida County Sheriff’s Office executed search warrants at the Rhinelander City Hall, Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019. Ben Meyer/WXPR Public Radio

Deputies arrested Rhinelander City Administrator Daniel Guild on suspicion of misconduct in public office, a felony, Monday morning

Guild will make his first appearance at 1:15 p.m. Tuesday in Oneida County Court.

The arrest came after months of investigation. Investigators locked down Rhinelander City Hall on Nov. 21 and seized 27 pieces of evidence. The Oneida County Sheriff’s Office executed the two warrants on suspicion that Guild committed two felonies, tampering with public records and misconduct in office.

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That search lasted more than five hours, and included officers from Oneida, Vilas, and Marathon counties, as well as the Wisconsin Department of Justice. The evidentiary items seized include documents, flash drives and cell phones.

[[{“fid”:”1088301″,”view_mode”:”embed_portrait”,”fields”:{“format”:”embed_portrait”,”alignment”:”right”,”field_image_caption[und][0][value]”:”%3Cp%3ERhinelander%20City%20Administrator%20Daniel%20Guild.%20%3Cem%3EPhoto%20courtesy%20of%20WXPR%3C%2Fem%3E%3C%2Fp%3E%0A”,”field_image_caption[und][0][format]”:”full_html”,”field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]”:”Daniel Guild”,”field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]”:”Daniel Guild”},”type”:”media”,”field_deltas”:{“2”:{“format”:”embed_portrait”,”alignment”:”right”,”field_image_caption[und][0][value]”:”%3Cp%3ERhinelander%20City%20Administrator%20Daniel%20Guild.%20%3Cem%3EPhoto%20courtesy%20of%20WXPR%3C%2Fem%3E%3C%2Fp%3E%0A”,”field_image_caption[und][0][format]”:”full_html”,”field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]”:”Daniel Guild”,”field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]”:”Daniel Guild”}},”link_text”:false,”attributes”:{“alt”:”Daniel Guild”,”title”:”Daniel Guild”,”class”:”media-element file-embed-portrait media-wysiwyg-align-right”,”data-delta”:”2″}}]]The investigation into the alleged tampering stemmed from a Sept. 4 complaint to the Oneida County Sheriff’s Office made by Gregg Walker, the owner of the Lakeland Times and Northwoods River News. Walker said the city told his newspaper, in response to an open records request, that personnel records relating to former Public Works Director Tim Kingman were lost. Guild also told the Common Council on Sept. 9 some of Kingman’s records were missing, said Rhinelander Police Chief Lloyd Gauthier.

Kingman was fired by a split vote of the Common Council in June.

Multiple witnesses said Kingman’s records were kept locked in Guild’s office. As city administrator, Guild was the legal custodian of the records.

According to state statute, it was Guild’s job to keep them safe and preserve them. Such records must be kept for seven years. Failing to do so is a crime.

The misconduct investigation goes back even further. On March 4, investigator Robert Hawn of the Price County Sheriff’s Office was assigned to assist Oneida County. He looked into emails sent to and received from Guild by the League of Wisconsin Municipalities.

Hawn’s investigation concluded with a recommendation of charges for tampering with public records and notices. Hawn found Guild had released an altered email in response to another open records request earlier in the year.

“As part of this release of documents, the City of Rhinelander released a copy of the email chain containing the altered email,” Oneida County Sheriff’s Capt. Terri Hook wrote in the warrant.

In the email to the League of Wisconsin Municipalities on Jan. 31, Guild inquired about the process for removing George Kirby from the role of Common Council president. A day before, four council members and Mayor Christopher Frederickson had drafted a letter to Kirby asking him to step down from the role after he refused to participate in a council meeting.

In Guild’s original email to the League of Wisconsin Municipalities, Guild used first-person pronouns like “we” and “us” to express the desire for guidance on removing Kirby as council president, although Guild has no formal power to influence council leadership.

But in the altered email that was later released, Guild removed those first-person references.

Investigator Hawn’s recommendation of charges was sent to Forest County District Attorney Chuck Simono, who was asked to act as a special prosecutor in the case. However, on Nov. 8, Oneida County District Attorney Michael Schiek requested Simono transfer the case back to him. Schiek said he had additional information on the case.

Despite this request, Simono drafted a letter on Nov. 18, saying he would not charge Guild criminally.

“The slight change in wording does not remotely give rise to any appearance to injure or defraud as the content of both messages are essentially the same,” Simono wrote.

“Please note that the changing of such emails, especially given your public position, is always suspect and opens the door to greater concerns regarding your conduct and the work within your office,” Simono wrote to Guild.

Despite that conclusion, the Oneida County Sheriff’s Office confirmed Nov. 22 that Simono did, in fact, transfer the case back to Schiek for review, meaning Schiek had the ultimate discretion over whether to charge Guild criminally.