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Kramer not disciplined following forgery conviction

By Kevin Boneske
Staff Writer

HOBART – Hobart Village Administrator Aaron Kramer won’t face discipline from the Village Board following his September conviction in Brown County Circuit Court of a misdemeanor count of being party to the crime of forgery.

The board met Oct. 5 in closed session to consider employment, promotion, compensation or performance evaluation related to Kramer, who was accused of directing a clerk last year to forge the name of the sitting municipal judge to remove a substitute judge.

Trustee Debbie Schumacher said the board took no action, but decided to issue a statement to Hobart residents regarding Kramer. 

On Sept. 16, Kramer was fined $500 plus costs and ordered to pay $700 in restitution after pleading no contest to the charge, which carries a maximum penalty of up to nine months in jail and/or a $10,000 fine.

The statement, which was included Friday, Oct. 8, in the village’s weekly newsletter, said the board “is going on record in support of Judge Thomas Walsh’s verdict and sentencing, as well as its continued support of Mr. Kramer.”

“A review of the court documents and transcript of the hearing show that no personal benefit or aggrandizement was ever, or intended to be, realized by Aaron or to anyone else’s benefit other than the Hobart/Lawrence Municipal Court,” the statement said. “The process for obtaining a temporary municipal judge is complicated. Additionally, an incredibly unique set of circumstances existed in this particular case. Consequently, the appointment of the temporary judge required more due diligence than Aaron conducted.”

Kramer was accused of directing the clerk to remove Carley Windorff as a substitute judge for Ronald VanLanen, then the Hobart/Lawrence municipal judge, without his knowledge or consent.

Court records state on Feb. 13, 2020, VanLanen requested Windorff, an attorney, to fill in for him during a medical leave, and he signed an application, which was submitted to the 8th Judicial District for approval.

The application was approved electronically March 2, 2020, by Judicial District Court Administrator Thomas Schappa.

On May 14, 2020, court records state Hobart/Lawrence Police Chief Randy Bani informed Kramer about Windorff representing Dan VanLanen, a Hobart/Lawrence officer and the son of Judge Ronald VanLanen, in her capacity as a private attorney as part of an employment investigation into allegations of employee misconduct.

It was on that day Kramer directed the clerk to have Windorff removed as a municipal judge.

In response to Kramer’s directive, court records further state the clerk drafted an application for municipal judicial assignment requesting Gregg Schreiber be assigned as the municipal judge, without telling Ronald VanLanen about the application, on which the clerk forged his signature.

Schreiber, a Lawrence resident who was a municipal judge in the Village of Howard for about 20 years, was subsequently appointed in March as the Hobart/Lawrence municipal judge by the village and town boards following VanLanen’s resignation in February.

Schreiber’s appointment ends April 2022, when a special election will be held with the winner serving out the remainder of the four-year term ending in April 2024.


During his sentencing hearing, Kramer said he was “profoundly sorry for the decision that I made, which resulted in an unauthorized signature of Judge Ronald VanLanen to be sent to the court system.”

“I have never had any criminal violations in my life until this incident, and I never will again,” he said.

The board’s statement characterized Kramer’s offense as a “misjudgment in administrative procedure.”

“Aaron’s personal and professional records have been without any blemish whatsoever,” the statement said. “His body of work for the Village of Hobart has been superlative and continues to be such.”

The board’s statement quoted Randall Schneider, the special prosecutor from Outagamie County assigned to the case, who said Kramer had good character and didn’t need to be placed on probation or sentenced to jail.

“Based on my conversations with counsel, I believe this offense has affected the defendant deeply, both mentally and physically,” Schneider said. “I think the point has been made to him. He’s led a good life up to now. He’s accepted responsibility. And I really believe that this is a one-off offense, and I think – I don’t believe there is a risk that this type of act will be committed in the future.”

The board’s statement said Kramer has paid the court-ordered fine and restitution.

“The Hobart Village Board does not deem it necessary nor warranted to ‘pile on’ to what has already been decided by the court itself,” the statement said. “On behalf of its constituents, the board looks forward to, and is intent on, continuing the work of the village and overseeing the ongoing exemplary work of the staff and of Aaron Kramer, specifically.”

When contacted for comment about the board’s statement, Kramer said, “I appreciate the board’s position and eagerly anticipate moving forward.”

Calls for removal

The board’s statement is in stark contrast to calls for Kramer to be removed from office.

Windorff, the recipient of the $700 in restitution who also provided a victim impact statement in court, said she is astounded as to why the Hobart Village Board hasn’t removed Kramer as village administrator.

“The village did nothing,” she said. “They sent it to their village attorney, (Frank Kowalkowski), who essentially lambasted me in this sort of a shell investigation conducted at taxpayer expense.”

In a June 25, 2020, letter Kowalkowski sent to Windorff, he stated he reviewed her appointment as a temporary municipal judge and found that after it ended in May 2020, “it does not appear you have any claims against the village or the standing necessary to assert them if they did exist.”

When The Press Times made an open records request to the Village of Hobart for copies of billing records related to the investigation involving the village attorney looking into Windorff being removed last year as a substitute judge, Clerk-Treasurer Erica Berger said the village “has not received or paid any bills in relation to this matter.”

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