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Mayor's after-hours 'workout' revealed in NR police report

Fred Horne

A police report made public Monday alleges New Richmond Mayor Fred Horne was discovered cavorting with a woman in a basement exercise area at city hall around 2 a.m. Tuesday, April 12.

The report also alleges Horne had been drinking and he allegedly questioned whether it was the officer's business that he was visiting the Civic Center in the middle of the night.

Neither Horne nor his companion were cited or detained. Reports about the incident were reviewed by City Attorney Ron Siler and subsequently referred to Council President Jim Zajkowski, according to police Lt. Jerry Cody.

When reached Tuesday morning, Horne said he regretted the incident and shouldn't have been in city hall under those circumstances.

The report stated Officer Timothy Kufus was on duty inside the New Richmond Police Department, directly over the center's basement workout area, when he heard the sound of a loud TV and someone "giggling."

Kufus left the office area and walked down the hall to investigate. He looked outside and saw two vehicles parked on the south side of the Civic Center, one of which Kufus recognized as Horne's green pickup truck, parked in the mayor's designated spot. Kufus ran the license plate on the second vehicle - a PT Cruiser - and recognized the owner's name as a woman whom he believed to be a city employee.

Kufus reported that when he walked downstairs and reaching the bottom, he noted there was "moaning" coming from the area of the changing room. When the officer announced himself, he heard what he believed to be a female say "oh" and a short time later, Horne exited the changing room.

Kufus asked Horne if everything was all right and "he stated 'yes' and winked at me," the officer wrote. "I said 'OK' and left."

Minutes later, Kufus said he met with fellow patrol officer Carlos de la Cruz and told him what he'd seen. The pair decided they needed to ask more questions and returned to the fitness center together.

While descending the stairs, they met Horne in the stairwell and de la Cruz asked why he was there. Horne questioned whether it was a "legal issue" for the officer and de la Cruz replied it wasn't but added that he didn't think employees who had been drinking were to be at the center and informed Horne that he believed the mayor had been drinking.

Kufus explained that he'd come down to investigate the noises he'd heard and wanted an explanation of what was going on. De la Cruz added that it wasn't "odd that someone was working out at that time but that it was odd that he was there after consuming alcohol."

Horne insisted that he was "showing (my) female friend the facilities."

The woman later emerged from the room and identified herself. The couple and officers then left the fitness center. The woman drove away and Horne walked to his North Third Street home.

When contacted Tuesday morning, City Administrator Dennis Horner said the individual identified in the police report is not a city employee. He declined further comment.

Reached in his office at City Hall Tuesday morning, Horne said the incident unfolded just as the reports described, but he said "nothing happened" between him and the woman in the basement.

He described her as a former co-worker of 20 years ago. The two apparently began conversing in a local bar and at the end of the evening, Horne brought her to his city office to show pictures of his children and later, show her around the building.

"In hindsight, I wouldn't do it again and I shouldn't have been in city hall after drinking. Lesson learned. It's good to be truthful and it won't happen again," he said.

Horne, 48, became mayor in April 2010, but previously served 17 years as alderman for District 1, Wards 1 and 2. He has been on numerous boards and committees and is also a member of the St. Croix County Board.

The News is not identifying the woman involved as she was not cited nor charged.