Thursday, December 15, 2005

Judge Exceeds Prosecution Request with 9-Month Sentence for Chvala

By Greg Bump

Former Senate Majority Leader Chuck Chvala was sentenced today to nine months in jail and two years probation by Dane County Judge David Flanagan. The prosecution had recommended six months in jail. The judge also fined Chvala $5,500 and gave the prosecution 45 days to come up with a restitution order.

"The injury done by these crimes was pervasive," Flanagan said in announcing the sentence.

In a 15-minute statement, Chvala said he was taking responsibility for his actions by pleading to the two felony counts, and tried to explain his motivations.

Chvala acknowledged the state's "compelling evidence" that campaign work was being done on state time, and that his conduct could have been construed as condoning that activity. "Unfortunately it's clear many people stepped over the line, including myself."

Chvala said fundraising never changed his position on legislation, and his attorney James Olson reiterated that point. "Sen. Chvala never mixed policy with fundraising. Many times he would support organizations that had no ability to give funds. He could have made a lot more money had he supported special interests on the other side."

Olson contended that Chvala's crimes "haven't cost the state a dime," and that is why there is no restitution to recover.

Prosecutor Milwaukee Co. ADA David Feiss said the case comes down to "power, corruption and courage."

He lauded the "courage" of people like former staffer Doug Burnett, former state Sen. Joe Wineke and Wis. Realtors Association President Bill Malkasian, people who "came forward to tell the truth. These are real people who took real risks."

Past Courtwatch posts on Chvala:

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