Sidney fires city official who pleaded guilty to misdemeanor

SIDNEY, Neb. (AP) - Sidney has fired its public works director who pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor after he was accused of looking into his ex-girlfriend’s home and seeing her only partially clothed.

John Hehnke was fired Tuesday after working for the city for 10 years, The Sidney Sun-Telegraph reports (http://bit.ly/1JlHSrY ). City officials declined to comment because it is a personnel matter. Mayor Mark Nienhueser said the City Council will likely discuss the firing at its meeting next Tuesday, but he declined to discuss the decision before then.

The newspaper couldn’t reach Hehnke on Wednesday, and no one answered at a number listed for him in Sidney on Thursday.

City Manager Gary Person, who fired Hehnke on Tuesday, said Thursday that he plans to resign at next week’s council meeting after 16 years on the job. Person told KNEB that he is not being forced out, but his resignation will allow Sidney to focus on the positive things that are happening in the city.

Hehnke’s ex-girlfriend called police in January 2014 and reported that he had been outside her house looking through the windows. Hehnke was cited by an officer that night, but Sidney Police Chief B.J. Wilkinson decided not to pursue the case.

The Nebraska Attorney General’s office investigated after concerns were raised about Wilkinson’s decision not to seek charges against Hehnke. Prosecutors filed charges against both Wilkinson and Hehnke earlier this year.

Hehnke pleaded guilty in April to disturbing the peace and paid a $300 fine.

Wilkinson pleaded no contest to obstructing government operations and was sentenced last month to 30 days in jail. His appeal of the sentence is due to be heard Sept. 28, and he remains on paid leave.

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