Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Jensen Gets 15 Months in Prison, 5-Year Capitol Ban

By JR Ross
WisPolitics.com

A Dane County judge sentenced Scott Jensen to 15 months in prison and banned him from the Capitol for the length of his five-year sentence, saying the former lawmaker violated the public trust, abused his position and had helped breed contempt for the law by ignoring it himself.

Jensen showed little emotion as Judge Steven Ebert announced the sentence, which includes 45 months on supervised release, restitution and a $500 fine for each of the three felony counts on which he was convicted. He was also ordered to pay a $500 fine plus court costs on a misdemeanor count.

Ebert also ordered restitution, which will be the subject of a future hearing that will also address the legal bills taxpayers covered for Jensen as part of the caucus investigation. Dane County DA Brian Blanchard told the court those bills totaled $67,147.50.

Ebert gave a lengthy rundown in court of Jensen's transgressions, their impact on the public and various factors impacting the sentence. Ebert noted Jensen seemed to be respected and well-liked by his supporters but said Jensen had tarnished public office, a calling Jensen had referred to as a noble cause.

"I don't think anyone is going to see your actions in this case as noble; Machiavellian maybe, but not noble," Ebert said.

Jensen declined to comment to the crowd of reporters waiting for him outside the courtroom. His wife, Julie, gave a brief statement in which she thanked their supporters, particularly those in Jensen's former Assembly district in the Waukesha area.

"We all have our challenges, and you have made this one so much easier," she said.

A string of former Jensen aides were in the courtroom this afternoon, including former spokesman Steve Baas, R.J. Pirlot and Brian Dake.

Ebert ordered Jensen to report to the Dane County Jail to begin his sentence by 7 a.m. on July 15. He also scheduled a hearing July 14 on Jensen's motion to stay his sentence as he appeals his conviction. Jensen has already filed papers indicating his intention to appeal and has requested to remain free on bond while his case continues.

Blanchard declined comment after the hearing, referring reporters to his sentencing recommendation. In it, he had accused Jensen of lying repeatedly on the stand and to investigators, failing to take responsibility for his actions and stealing from taxpayers to fund his campaign machine.

In court, he said Jensen steered a long-running scheme to defraud the state out of hundreds of thousands of dollars that would still be ongoing if the Wisconsin State Journal had not written a series of stories that sparked the state's investigation.

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