Foti's Misdemeanor Plea Means He Has to Testify
In a remarkably brief hearing before Dane County Judge Steven Ebert today, Steve "Mickey" Foti, once the number two man in the Assembly, sat humbly as he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor that could send him to jail for up to a year.
Foti, now a lobbyist, is the fourth former state legislator to plead guilty to charges stemming from what's referred to as the "caucus scandal." The maximum penalty for the offense is 12 months in jail, but according to the plea agreement, Dane County DA Brian Blanchard will recommend 30 days in jail. Blanchard will also ask for two years probation.
A restitution recommendation, based on reimbursement for former legislative staffer Sherry Schultz's salary and benefits from Jan. 1998 to Oct. 2001, will be filed at a later date. Foti attorney Frank Gimbel said the figure the state has advanced is in the neighborhood of $300,000.
Ebert, who can accept or reject the plea deal, did not set a date for sentencing.
The plea agreement also stipulates that Foti cooperate in the investigation and prosecution of Schultz and former Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen.
Before entering into the plea, Foti was facing a felony charge of misconduct in office.
In a statement released to the press following the hearing, Foti admitted staff were doing campaign work on state time, but did not admit that he knew it was illegal at the time.
"I regret that decisions that I made during my service as a state legislator have been determined to have resulted in my inappropriately mixing my legislative obligations with my political commitments," Foti said. "For several years, I have allowed certain of my staff to participate in partisan political activity without ensuring that taxpayer funds would not be utilized for their compensation. Had I then recognized the illegality of that practice, I could and should have prevented same."
Foti added he hopes his family, constituents and colleagues can forgive him. "I am working on seeking to forgive myself," he said.
See Foti's statement
See the plea agreement