REEDSBURG — A leader of the Sauk County Board has been found guilty of shoplifting and is now banned from two Reedsburg stores.
Supervisor Wally Czuprynko of Lake Delton pleaded no contest to two retail theft citations that police filed against him earlier this month and was found guilty during a court proceeding Friday.
Reedsburg Municipal Court Clerk Darleen Wohling said Czuprynko already paid $456 in fines and restitution to two businesses.
Documents show he also has been ordered not to return to Martens Reedsburg True Value and the Viking Village Foods grocery store. The businesses told police he shoplifted less than $10 worth of items Jan. 4, including a Yeti tumbler drinking glass lid and a cup of soup.
Czuprynko said Tuesday he had not yet evaluated whether he will resign from the county board or the village of Lake Delton Plan Commission, but had no immediate plans to do so. He said he has apologized, wants to move on, and believes he has been unfairly targeted by the Baraboo News Republic.
“You’re making more of this than it really is,” Czuprynko said. “There are people who are currently serving on the board who have done far worse things and I don’t see stories about them.… I honestly feel like you’re just paying me back.”
Czuprynko has mockingly referred to the Baraboo News Republic as the “award-winning BNR” and labeled the publication the “Fake News Republic” on social media. He said he believes his criticism is behind the publication’s decision to report on his shoplifting case.
The newspaper and numerous other media outlets publicized Czuprynko’s shoplifting citations after the Reedsburg Police Department issued a press release about them earlier this month.
Czuprynko alleged that the newspaper pressured the police into issuing the release.
Reedsburg Police Chief Tim Becker confirmed in an email Tuesday that Czuprynko’s assertion was incorrect and that he did not speak to the Baraboo News Republic until after he issued the release.
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Czuprynko said he decided to plead no contest to the citations because he didn’t want to cause more aggravation by contesting the tickets.
“What I did was wrong,” he said. “I apologize. I want to move on. I want you to know, what you did – again, no excuse for what I did, it was wrong – but you made my entire family feel horrible.”
Czuprynko said he was going through complications in his personal life, which he declined to discuss. He was not in the right frame of mind, he said, when the thefts occurred.
A police report states that Czuprynko unwrapped the tumbler lid inside the hardware store, put it in his pocket, and discarded the empty packaging in another location before leaving the store without paying.
He then went to the grocery store, where he poured himself a cup of soup from the deli. The report states Czuprynko discarded the partially eaten item in a box of carpeting, but never paid for it.
It’s not yet clear whether Czuprynko will face any political fallout. He serves in a leadership position on the county board, having been elected by his peers to the powerful Executive and Legislative Committee. The five-member panel is charged with overseeing county government’s top administrative officials and other matters.
According to board rules, only the board’s chairman can remove a supervisor from a committee with approval from two-thirds of the board.
Sauk County Board Chairman Peter Vedro said no supervisors have formally requested that any specific action be taken against Czuprynko.
Vedro said he had reached out to Czuprynko to offer him support for whatever he may be going through, but has not heard back.
“I am waiting to hear from my colleagues, being one of thirty-one,” Vedro said. “And most importantly, I’m waiting to hear from Supervisor Czuprynko.”