Joseph Crotty, 48, worked for 26 years as an electrician at the Janesville-based manufacturer. During that time, he received dozens of reprimands for being drunk at work, hitting co-workers and insubordination, according to court documents.
In May 2011, Hufcor offered Crotty $7,500 as part of a termination agreement that included a provision he not disparage any of the signed parties—including Pat Whitmore, vice president of administration. When Crotty’s unemployment checks were about to expire, he began calling Hufcor and blaming the company for his situation.
“His first call I answered,” Whitmore told District Judge William Conley, noting she also recorded several more calls from Crotty.
For 10 days, Crotty continued to make threatening calls. Whitmore said co-workers advised her to move out of her office, where Crotty might see her through the windows. Instead, she said she remained in her office thinking if Crotty came looking for her it would be easier for co-workers to find her.
“There was a serious possibility he would kill me,” said Whitmore, who obtained a restraining order against Crotty.
Crotty was actually making the calls from Oklahoma, where he was apprehended and transported back to Wisconsin on an interstate stalking charge.
After being found mentally competent to stand trial, Crotty pleaded guilty and on Friday said he never intended to act on his threats.
“I’m very ashamed of what I’ve done,” he said. “Nothing ever would have happened.”
Jack Hoag, Crotty’s attorney, said co-workers didn’t fear Crotty, but they acknowledged knowing him.
In addition to Crotty’s alcoholism and possible mental health issues, Conley said he was concerned about Crotty blaming others for separation from Hufcor. No amount of counseling Crotty might get in prison or afterward will help unless he accepts responsibility for his actions, Conley said.
Conley said he went below the advisory guideline sentencing range because he didn’t believe Crotty would have carried out his threats, even though Crotty knew they scared his victim.
Conley also placed Crotty on three years supervised release and admonished him not to drink at all during that time.