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Former jail officer faces felony charge stemming from relationship with inmate

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Ted Sullivan
August 21, 2008
— A former Walworth County correctional officer accused of having a relationship with an inmate and illegally passing him a greeting card will appear in court Friday on a felony charge.

Ellen L. Madl, 49, of 616 N. Wisconsin St., Elkhorn, is charged with delivery of illegal articles to an inmate.


She resigned July 1 before the criminal charge was filed, Walworth County Sheriff David Graves said.


“She would have been terminated,” he said.


Correctional officers are not allowed to have relationships with inmates, Jail Administrator Mike Schmitz said.


According to the criminal complaint, detention officers June 16 searched the Huber dorm cell of Thomas Alan Berndt, 24, Genoa City, and found a greeting card that had not been properly mailed to the jail.


Investigators interviewed two inmates who told them that Berndt was in a relationship with Madl, according to the criminal complaint.


The relationship began after Berndt was released from jail the first time, according to the criminal complaint.


A detective interviewed Madl, according to the criminal complaint, and she admitted passing the inmate the card.


Madl told the detective she knew it was wrong to pass items to inmates, so said she gave Berndt the card without permission because she didn’t want anyone to find out, according to the criminal complaint.


The jail’s handbook states inmates cannot receive mail that is not properly mailed into the jail.


Madl and Berndt were aware of the rule, according to the complaint.


A judge has ordered Madl not to contact Berndt, according to court records.


Berndt is serving a six-month jail sentence after his probation was revoked on a June 2007 conviction for misdemeanor battery, according to court records.


Madl remains free on $1,000 signature bond. If convicted, she faces up to three years and six months in prison and a $10,000 fine.



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