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October 20, 2019

9/17/2019 7:30:00 AM
Bilogan files retirement notice with county
Kayla Houp
Of the Lakeland Times

John Bilogan has officially retired from the Oneida County forestry department.

Bilogan, who was placed on paid administrative leave in May while the Oneida County sheriff's department conducted an investigation into a complaint, notified the county of his retirement effective Sept. 10, county officials have confirmed.

As a result of the investigation, the sheriff's department recommended a felony charge of misconduct in office be filed against Bilogan for allegedly using county equipment and McNaughton inmates to perform brushing on a portion of county forestland. That portion of county forestland was being turned into a town road providing access to property Bilogan had purchased.

According to sheriff's department investigatory reports, on April 15 Bilogan, who was the county forestry director, allegedly accompanied a crew of 10 inmates and a wood chipper to a job site to brush a portion of county forest where a town road was being built to the Bilogan property.

Bilogan also allegedly utilized another employee of the forestry department, and county equipment, the report stated.

According to the sheriff's department report, Bilogan was personally responsible for all costs incurred for the construction of the road because it was not a county project.

The terms by which Bilogan obtained the property in the first place also came under investigators' scrutiny.

Previous owners Frank Stape and Bill Strom told investigators they had inquired with Bilogan about getting an easement to their property because they wanted to build cottages.

"Frank and Bill said Bilogan advised that would never happen as the property was surrounded by county forestland and never be zoned to be developed," the report states. "Frank said Frank and Lynda [Stape] decided to sell their 1/3 ownership in the land, as they were convinced by Bilogan the land was not worth much."

Investigators were told that another one-third partner sold his share to Bilogan, leaving Strom, who reportedly did not want to sell.

"Frank said Bilogan advised [that] Bilogan would get Victoria's (Strom's) portion of the land through eminent domain," the report states.

Strom's husband Bill told investigators they did not want to sell their portion of the land.

"Bill said after Lynda and Thomas sold their portions, Bilogan threatened to make things rough on Bill and Victoria if they did not sell to Bilogan," the report states.

Because they did not want a legal hassle, they sold their land to Bilogan, the report states.

Stape and Strom said they were upset when they discovered Bilogan had obtained rights to a town road to the property.

Oneida County officials confirmed to The Times on May 10 that Bilogan had been placed on paid leave; the sheriff's department issued a probable cause statement on June 4, and the case was referred to the district attorney on June 5.

The Oneida County district attorney subsequently recused himself from a charging decision and referred the case to the Lincoln County district attorney's office, where the matter has remained.

Oneida County human resources director Lisa Charbarneau confirmed on Sept. 13 that Bilogan had filed a retirement notice with the county effective Sept. 10.

Kayla Houp may be reached via email at kaylah@lakelandtimes.com.





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