Union questions suspension of officers reportedly giving Ben Sebena special treatment

CREATED Mar 22, 2013

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MILWAUKEE - Four jail officers are off the job pending a review, and one other has been fired. They are accused of providing special treatment to Benjamin Sebena.

Sebena is in jail for allegedly killing his wife, Wauwatosa officer Jennifer Sebena.

A jolly rancher candy found in Sebena's cell sparked this entire investigation, but many of the officers insist they were following orders from their lieutenant.

“He had the candy in there he wasn't suppose to have it,” said Lynn Overholt, the fired officer’s mother. “The inmates who gave it to him wasn't suppose to give it to him. Now my son is fired.”

The memos from the sheriffs office talk about the internal investigation that reveals four officers, including a lieutenant, were allowing Sebena access to candy. But the union president, Kevin Schoofs says he doesn't think that's the issue.

“What I was told by those two officers, the rules for that area is that inmates could have canteen items,” Schoofs said. “They could not have them in their cells they were to be kept at the desk.”

Overholt's mother acknowledges her son allowed Sebena to eat the candy but only after getting it cleared.

“He said ‘I gave it because the lieutenant told me to give it to him,” Overholt said.

Sources say Sebena, who is on suicide watch, wasn't allowed any candy, but he was reportedly getting sweets and other canteen items from those visiting him. They were reportedly leaving the money on another inmates’ commissary and guards were passing the goods to Sebena.

“I have no knowledge of money being put on someone else's books,” said Schoofs.

The union president said the officers question if the lieutenant had special orders about Sebena she did not pass on to the officers.

“Unless there was a special set of rules strictly for Sebena, to my knowledge from what these officers told me they were following the policy,” he added.

Overholt says her son's career is over due to ill-communication overall.

“He was all excited for this job and now the job is gone,” she said.

The lieutenant is also suspended without pay. Overholt was fired because he was a rookie on probation. The sheriff's office has no comment on open investigations, but the officers will go before a review board in July.