Archived Story

Rude says Philipp should have received the same treatment

Published 5:00pm Saturday, August 21, 2010

Curt Rude, the former Austin police captain who was terminated from his position earlier this year, said he thinks there was a double standard when it came to how the city treated him versus former chief Paul Philipp.

What really sticks out, Rude said, is what the two former employees received when they walked out the door.

Rude — who was terminated after being convicted of a felony drug crime that cost him his police license — received nothing from the city, although he did still receive his state pension.

Philipp, on the other hand, received $54,977 in unused sick time and vacation time upon retirement, the city’s finance director reported. The city also contributed money into Philipp’s state retirement account — most recently at a rate of 14 percent of the former chief’s $94,000 salary — over the years, although specific figures from that account are not public data because employees contribute as well.

Philipp retired in January after former secretary Judy Boorman filed a complaint that alleged that he pursued affairs with various women while on the clock, which she said was a misuse of public funds.

The former chief said in a statement e-mailed to the Herald on Aug. 11 that he made mistakes in his personal life, but added that he was “never derelict in my duties as Chief of Police.”

Philipp also previously stated in a press release that he retired “to spare the Austin police force additional controversy that may be divisive.”

Philipp declined a follow-up request to comment for this story.

Mayor Tom Stiehm said in an earlier interview that the decision to retire was Philipp’s alone, adding that the city never tried to push the chief out to cover the allegations up.

On Thursday, Stiehm maintained that the investigation — which was handled by city attorney John Beckmann — was thorough and that had Philipp stuck around, he likely would not have been terminated as a result. That means he still would have received his retirement benefits whenever he decided to leave, the mayor said.

Instead, Stiehm said Philipp decided to retire rather than go through the investigation process, leaving the city little they could do.

“Paul owned up, I think,” Stiehm said. “He punished himself harder than we ever could have.”

However, Boorman and now Rude have claimed that the investigation should have been handled by someone outside the city. In Rude’s case, it was the work of two outside entities — the BCA and, later, the Olmsted County court system — which ultimately led to his punishment.

The mayor said the cost of an outside investigation — which would have been in the neighborhood of $10,000 to $12,000, Stiehm added — would not have been worth it in Philipp’s case, because he simply left on his own.

Stiehm and the city administrator noted it is common to bring in the city attorney’s office, especially in the early stages of an investigation. The mayor added that the same attorney — Beckmann — handled both the Rude case and the Philipp case.

Ultimately, Stiehm said the Philipp case was handled properly.

“If the (Minnesota) attorney general took a look at it, they’d say, ‘This was absolutely the way it was supposed to be done,’” the mayor said, adding the city was very careful because, “We all knew this whole thing would be under a microscope.”

But Rude said he still feels he got a raw deal. The former captain was put on leave in 2007 after he was found with prescription pills in his possession that had come from the department’s evidence room. In November 2009, he was convicted of a felony drug crime by an Olmsted County jury. Though the felony could be erased from Rude’s record if he abides by the terms of his five years of probation, the conviction alone was enough to cost him his license — and his career.

Rude has maintained that he took the OxyContin pills — which belonged to Mark Johnson, a close friend of Rude’s and former KAAL-TV reporter who died of a drug overdose — to learn more about them. He said he never sold or used any pills, the latter claim supported by a clean drug test, Rude noted.

The former captain said Philipp should have been subject to the same process as he was, which would have included going on leave and dealing with an outside investigator.

Instead, Rude said Philipp was allowed to just walk away.

“I would have hoped, in a sense of fairness, that I was treated like Paul,” he said.

Stiehm said he wouldn’t comment — and didn’t want to speculate — on whether hypocrisy existed in how the two former high-ranking police officials were treated.

The mayor added: “That’s certainly the issue, isn’t it?”

Sign in to Comment | Need help commenting? Click here

  • phipho

    Curt, I’d say one of the major differences is that Philipp isn’t a felon. Generally its not considered a good business practice to award felons time for sick leave. Particularly when they commit the felony on the Clock as your buddy Judy would put it. The behavior he was accused of didn’t, even if found guilty, rise to the level of a felony. This is just more sour grapes by you and your girlfriend Judy. Get on with your life. By the by, hows that independent research on oxycontin coming?

    Report comment

    • carolyn sween

      Seriously? Seriously? You still would rather believe anything negative about Curt Rude or Judy Boorman, but the Chief is not held accountable for anything. How does that work? Curt Rude served Austin for over 23 years, with honesty and dedication. He moved a bottle of pills from the DISCARD bin, not from the evidence container, to a locked file in his office. His drug tests were all clean. The pills never left the bottle or the file. Captain Phillip refused to even consider letting Curt Rude resign from the department and keep his career. No, Captain Rude had to be punished. But Chief Phillip left quietly to spare the city of Austin? What a great show of compassion by Chief Phillip. Where was that when Rude was put on unpaid leave for over two years? Where was that caring and compassion when Curt Rude was spending thousand of dollars of his own money on lawyer fees, when he was being blasted on the news and in the papers, when he lost his case and his career? Curt Rude moved a bottle of pills from a DISCARD bin to a locked file!
      That doesn’t constitute a felony, either. Hasn’t he been punished enough? Chief Phillip behaves in such a way that could result in criminal charges being filed against him – but, oh, let’s just not bother with that. He’s gone now – he and his family need to move forward. Besides, it’s probably just Judy trying to stir up trouble, just sour grapes? Seriously?

      Report comment

      • phipho

        Carolyn, a jury of his peers disagrees with you, seriously.

        Report comment

  • Darthski

    Who cares what he thinks????
    a waste of time and a waste of time to read about “ohh poor me!”
    get over yourself

    Report comment

  • jmdaniel

    Rude should have been presented, as a parting gift, with the bill for the legal services that the city had to fork out to deal with him.

    Report comment

  • cooper

    Only in this city could something like this happen and the person gets all of the money. If it would have been Rude all three of you would have screaming for his head. Philipp was on city time and was spending city money to chase these women. But i guss that is ok as long as everyone likes you. Nice double standard people!

    Report comment

  • jmdaniel

    Cooper, my comment had nothing to do with Philipp, so I’m not sure why you think there is a double standard. People would think twice about engaging in frivolous legal shenanigans if they had to pay both sides when they lost. This particular example is your buddy, Curt, that’s all.

    Report comment

  • RJ

    I think alot of this comes down to jealosy. Curt was a top notch officer that served his community in many ways. He had the education, and most of all he was one of the few police officers that had true compassion and cared about people. He will never be a felon to those who believe in him. I think that Paul Phillips should pay back the city for the hours that he used his computer, cell phone, and landline phone to do “other” business–he works for us and should be accountable for the time he spent in his day at the LEC. It comes down to who you know in this town as to what you can “pull” off and get away with.

    Report comment

  • cooper

    RJ thank you. He was the leader that supposed to hold everyone to the standards. All the while he was doing the same thing that he was condeming. He should give back the money.

    Report comment

  • Rhino

    Actually… Phillup stole company time… that our dime paid him… isnt theft a felony???

    Report comment

  • K-Man

    It appears to me that by reading these comments one has to either be ‘Pro-Phillipp’ or ‘Pro-Rude’; but that makes me wonder if anyone can just say that they BOTH did something wrong?!? In my personal opinion I would have to say that Rude’s offence was more serious. Handling a controlled substance like that w/o permission and doing so in such a covert manner makes you guilty if you ask me! I can do reserach on any drug I want w/o taking it and acting suspicious with it. In regards to the Chief, it’s not as clear cut. How many hours did the man work?? Were there days that the man worked several hours more than what would be ‘normally’ expected of him (yes I realize that in that position you have to put in the hours that it requires for when certain situations present themselves)? Would it be wrong for someone to take some time out of his day to attend to personal matters? And on those days did he stay a little longer to make up for that time? Have none of you called your doctor while on the clock?? Called your daycare or friends to set up plans for the weekend? I am in NO WAY saying that what he did was right ethically or morally, but from a professional level if he did NOT spend an excessive amount of time on this then it would be acceptable. In regards to cell phone usage, if there were texts and/or data usage then he should absolutely be responsible for reimburing the city for those funds. Is using a cell phone for personal use make him a felon? Probably not.. Does it make him a bad person in general, well we can judge him but that’s up to his wife and/or family and friends to make that decision and go from there. I can also say that I have had no ‘run-ins’ with Law Enforcement here in Austin but did contact Officer Rude once about a case and he was competely unproffesional and disrespectful. I have NOT had any contact with Chief Phillipp.

    Report comment

  • GWAnderson

    I am not in favor of either one. Corruption goes from the top down. What do we now have?

    Gordon W. Anderson

    Report comment

  • inthenews

    There is a difference between morally wrong and legally wrong. I am quite certain many, many other people have had the person they are having an “affair” with contact them at work to avoid spousal suspicion. Should we start a witch hunt and have them all fired? Rude did not get a parting package because he was terminated, he did not retire. If he had thought to retire himself from the school board and police station maybe he could have spared some of the drama and criticism he has had to face. It is time to move on.

    Report comment

  • Inny

    Both committed crimes in my book. Phillip used his office to carry on affairs on our money. That is theft in my book. Rude was found guilty and rightfully so. Rude does have a point, even if it does come across as sour grapes.

    Report comment

Editor's Picks