Gorman takes the helm Jan. 1
By Robert Cloud
Manawa’s new police chief grew up surrounded by relatives in law enforcement.
“My dad was a military police officer, and I had uncles and aunts who worked for the Chicago Police Department,” said James Gorman, who will begin leading Manawa’s Police Department on Jan. 1.
Gorman said his uncles walked their patrols in the local neighborhoods.
“They knew the kids, the people who lived there, what cars were supposed to be in the neighborhood,” Gorman said. “It made a lasting impression on me.”
Gorman remembers the rioting that rocked Chicago in 1968.
“It was happening a few streets down from where I lived,” Gorman said. “My dad would take us along different routes to get around the riots. I was about 6 years old and I didn’t really understand. It was a really volatile period.”
Gorman’s family moved from Chicago to New London after his father purchased the Rainbow Motel, then Northside Beverage.
“I remember when we first moved to New London, we were driving by Hatten Park and I saw a herd of deer run across the road,” Gorman said. “I had never seen so many deer inside a city before.”
After graduating from high school, Gorman worked at Hillshire Farm from 1979 to 1982. From 1982 to 1993, he worked for Northland Beverage as the store manager then as the owner-operator.
At the same time, Gorman began studying for a career in law enforcement.
He earned an associate’s degree in police science and criminal justice from Fox Valley Technical College in Appleton, then received a bachelor’s degree in supervisory management and criminal justice operations from Concordia University in Green Bay.
Gorman also has a state certification as a corrections officer from Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay and a certificate in executive management from the Mendoza College of Business at Notre Dame University.
In addition, he received advanced training in law enforcement executive leadership from the FBI Regional Command College in Appleton.
Gorman began his career in law enforcement with the village of Fremont police, where he worked from 1986 to 1994.
In 1993, he started working with the Waupaca County Sheriff’s Office, where he has been a dispatcher, corrections officer, patrol deputy, technical crash investigator, SWAT team member, marksman and detective sergeant.
Gorman has also served as president and steward of the Waupaca County Law Enforcement Officers Association, Local 2771.
”The skills I have accrued over the past many years have made me a great fit for the position of police chief,” Gorman said.
Con man convicted
Gorman’s tenacious attitude toward resolving a case can be seen in the work he did to bring to justice a Green Bay con man who swindled $30,000 from an elderly Waupaca woman.
Although most of the crimes and the eventual conviction took place in Brown County, the victim was a resident of Waupaca County.
On March 12, 2010, Janice Lytie came to the Waupaca County Sheriff’s Office with her son and daughter-in-law. She was there to report how Matthew J. Lawrence, 47, had taken thousands of dollars from her over a period of three months.
The two met at a casino in Green Bay when Lawrence sat down next to Lytie at the slot machines and struck up a conversation. Soon, they began calling and visiting each other.
However, where Lytie saw an opportunity for friendship, Lawrence saw an opportunity to make money.
Lawrence began telling Lytie hardship stories, that he needed money to repair his car, pay taxes, get a friend out of jail. She wired $2,925 to him in January, then more in February and early March.
Lawrence became more demanding and controlling. He even tried to persuade Lytie to obtain a restraining order against her own children.
Gorman investigated Lawrence and found he had a history of abusing and exploiting women. He put together a binder with more than 500 pages of reports, photos and interview notes on Lawrence. He learned the suspect had already spent three years in prison for forgery uttering. All the victims were women.
Gorman found evidence that at least half a dozen Wisconsin women, most of them in their 70s, have fallen prey to Lawrence.
“I’m finding all these women who have been victims and I can’t believe my eyes,” Gorman said. “I came to realize that this guy is a monster and has got to be stopped.”
Gorman told the Waupaca County Post in 2012 that he believed Lawrence posed a danger to Lytie, so he encouraged her to seek a restraining order against Lawrence.
On March 26, 2010, Gorman personally served the order to Lawrence when he came to Lytie’s home in Waupaca, then took him to the jail for questioning.
During the interview, Lawrence said he thought his relationship with Lytie had been going well until she found out about all the lies he had been telling.
Waupaca County would not prosecute the case against Lawrence because the alleged criminal activity had taken place in Brown County.
Lytie and Gorman then contacted the Coalition of Wisconsin Aging Groups, the state attorney general’s office and the Brown County district attorney.
In June 2011, Brown County filed charges against Lawrence based on evidence from Gorman’s investigation. The charges were for felony theft through fraud and abuse of a vulnerable adult occurring.
Lawrence pleaded no contest to both counts. He was sentenced to three years in state prison in January 2012.
Gorman and his family have made Manawa their home for 14 years.
“My wife Lisa and I, along with our children reside in Manawa,” Gorman said. “Our oldest daughter Brianna has graduated from FVTC and is married. Brandon is a freshman at St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wisconsin. Our youngest children – Nicholas, Nathan and Natalie – all attend the Manawa School District.”
Gorman has coached Manawa’s fifth through eighth-grade basketball and its Mid-State football teams.