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WAUSAU (WAOW) -
Marathon County Sheriff Randy Hoenisch announced Friday he plans to retire in the next few weeks.
At a news conference Friday afternoon, Hoenisch said his decision is based on the pending sentencing of his wife, Kim Hoenisch, who pleaded no contest in January to stealing prescription drugs while she worked as a probation officer.
Hoenisch said he doesn't know when his last day will be, but he expects it will take 2-3 weeks for the paperwork to be finalized.
The 57-year-old sheriff has been under scrutiny recently for staying quiet about his wife's legal troubles as well as for recently revealed records that showed he has spent less than two hours in the office this year.
"I've been with the sheriff's department 39 years and if you take the last, whatever period you want to talk about, and pour that time in the 38 years I was with the sheriff's department, it would be dilute with my achievements, my successes," Hoenisch said.
On Friday Hoenisch laid out a detailed timeline of his wife's legal troubles, and explained why he has decided to retire.
Hoenisch said he learned in late July 2012 that his wife, Kim Hoenisch, had taken prescription drugs from one of her clients.
"Upon learning what Kim had done, I immediately knew that Kim was in serious legal trouble," said Sheriff Hoenisch. "I knew she would lose her job, and most likely be facing felony criminal charges, and could very likely be sentenced to prison. I also knew this incident would have a profound effect on my job as sheriff."
What he didn't realize, Hoenisch said, was "the effect it would have on every aspect of my life."
Sheriff Hoenisch said he took his wife to St. Joseph's Hospital in Marshfield for in-patient treatment and then called the police. He said he asked the state to investigate and to make sure that "no stone be left unturned" so no one could accuse the sheriff's department of a cover-up.
Hoenisch told reporters he struggled to decide if he could effectively lead the sheriff's department.
"Initially I was hoping to wait until her sentencing to make any decision," he said. However, he said once he learned his wife would likely face some time in prison, he decided to retire.
"I had not discussed this decision to retire with anybody," said Hoenisch.
He said he initially decided to retire in April, but has since changed his mind given the media attention surrounding his wife's case.
Hoenisch apologized to Marathon County employees for the distractions and back-and-forth of this situation.
"I am truly sorry. You folks deserve better," he said.
The sheriff became emotional as he told reporters that member of his department were learning about his decision to retire for the first time.
"They are a world class group of people who the citizens of Marathon County should be very proud of," he said.
During his news conference, Hoenisch brought his twin sons to the front and said they played a role in his decision to retire.
"Family comes first," said Hoenisch.
Hoenisch told reporters he has no plans to run for office again.
Meanwhile, Kim Hoenisch is scheduled to be sentenced April 25 in Marathon County. She is free on a $10,000 signature bond.
Cullen Werwie, a spokesman for Gov. Scott Walker, said Friday the process of replacing Hoenisch will begin once the sheriff legally notifies the governor of his retirement.
Applications for the job will be sought and they will be given to a committee, which includes law enforcement people, to be reviewed, Werwie said.
The committee will make recommendations to the governor who will then appoint a replacement to serve out the remainder of Hoenisch's term, Werwie said. The process usually takes several weeks.
Hoenisch was re-elected in 2010. His four-year term expires in 2014. Hoenisch won his first election in 2000, and he was re-elected three times. He has worked for the sheriff's department since 1974.
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