Thursday, September 27, 2007

Judicial panel orders briefs in Ziegler discipline case

A judicial panel handling Justice Annette Ziegler's discipline case ordered briefs to address details in media reports about her handling of cases involving a bank for which her husband served on the board of directors.

The three-member Judicial Conduct Panel wrote it needs more information about the cases than what was included in the stipulation Ziegler and the Judicial Commission reached that recommended she face a reprimand for violating conflict of interest rules.

Ziegler and the commission were given three weeks to file the briefs and one week to state their positions on where a Nov. 19 hearing on the matter should be held.

See the order:
http://www.wispolitics.com/1006/070926_Ziegler_order.pdf

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Friday, September 14, 2007

Wedemeyer replaces Hoover on Ziegler discipline commission

The panel that will handle disciplinary proceedings in the case against Supreme Court Justice Annette Ziegler is finally set.

First District Appeals Court Judge Ted Wedemeyer replaced Third District Court of Appeals Judge Michael Hoover on the panel after it was revealed that Hoover gave Ziegler's Supreme Court campaign $100 last fall. The panel will retain Judges Charles P. Dykman and Ralph Adam Fine.

The panel will make a recommendation on possible discipline for Ziegler for overseeing cases while on the Washington County bench involving a bank for which her husband served on the board of directors.

Read the order creating the new panel: http://www.wispolitics.com/index.iml?Article=104907

Read the order disbanding the first panel: http://www.wispolitics.com/1006/large/070913zieglerorder.pdf

Read the original order creating the panel: http://www.wispolitics.com/index.iml?Article=104792

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Erickson pleads, agrees to cooperate with feds

Kenosha businessman John Erickson admitted to funneling contributions to candidates sympathetic to Indian gaming in Kenosha and/or relaxing interstate trucking regulations in a plea deal announced Wednesday.

John Erickson agreed to cooperate with federal authorities as part of the deal, including providing testimony to a grand jury and any subsequent trials. The deal grants Erickson immunity for any testimony that he provides.

U.S. Attorney Steve Biskupic declined to comment on the deal beyond saying the investigation is ongoing and pointing out the original charges noted there are no allegations of wrongdoing against anyone else at this time, including the elected officials who received the illegal contributions.

Read the plea deal:
http://www.wispolitics.com/1006/070912EricksonPleaDoc.pdf

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Friday, September 07, 2007

Appeals court: McGee can be held until trial

Milwaukee Ald. Michael McGee Jr. can be held until trial without bail, a federal appeals court has ruled.

McGee's federal defender, Calvin Malone, had petitioned the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals after Judge Rudolph Randa ruled in July that McGee could be held due to his alleged failure to follow court orders and for being a possible danger to the community.

Randa's decision had reversed an order by a magistrate judge that would have allowed McGee's release on $10,000 cash bond and other conditions.

McGee faces a nine-count federal indictment alleging extortion, bribery and attempting to avoid reporting requirements for a large cash transaction. He also faces 12 state charges, for which he had posted $50,000 bail.

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Judicial Commission recommends reprimand of Ziegler

Annette Ziegler would become the first Wisconsin Supreme Court justice to be disciplined if her high court colleagues ultimately accept a recommendation to reprimand her, the head of the state Judicial Commission said Thursday.

The commission and Ziegler filed a stipulation recommending a reprimand for Ziegler's misconduct in hearing cases while on the Washington County bench involving a bank for which her husband was on the board of directors.

Judicial Commission Executive Director James Alexander said a different panel made up of three appeals court judges will now review the stipulation and make a recommendation for possible discipline to the Supreme Court. The justices will then have final say over any penalty for Ziegler, who was sworn in last month.

Alexander said no justice has ever been disciplined by the court. The Supreme Court has reprimanded many judges, suspended some and removed very few from the bench, Alexander said.

In the stipulation, Ziegler admitted to the allegations, while the commission acknowledged she did not "gain or attempt to gain a financial advantage for herself or her family. There is no indication that any case was decided incorrectly. The commission accepts her statement that such conduct was inadvertent and not intentional."

*Read the complaint:
http://www.wispolitics.com/1006/large/070906_Ziegler_Complaint.pdf
*Read the stipulation and recommendation for reprimand:
http://www.wispolitics.com/1006/large/070906_Stipulation_JR.pdf
*Read the commission's letter to Ziegler:
http://www.wispolitics.com/1006/large/090706_Ziegler_ltr.pdf

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McGee appeal for release denied

Milwaukee Ald. Michael McGee Jr. can be held until trial without bail, a federal appeals court has ruled.

McGee's federal defender, Calvin Malone, had petitioned the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals after Judge Rudolph Randa ruled in July that McGee could be held due to his alleged failure to follow court orders and for being a possible danger to the community.

Randa's decision had reversed an order by a magistrate judge that would have allowed McGee's release on $10,000 cash bond and other conditions. The appeals court issued its ruling yesterday.

McGee faces a nine-count federal indictment alleging extortion, bribery and attempting to avoid reporting requirements for a large cash transaction. He also faces 12 state charges, for which he had posted $50,000 bail.

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Thursday, September 06, 2007

Troha associate Erickson charged with illegal contributions

John Erickson conspired with others, including Dennis Troha, to identify politicians who supported American Indian gaming and/or relaxing interstate trucking regulations and then gave money to family members and others to make illegal campaign contributions to the candidates, according to federal charges released Tuesday.

The U.S. attorney's office in Milwaukee said Erickson and his conspirators used a slush fund, financed in part by corporate funds, to reimburse themselves and others for campaign contributions to more than 20 state and federal candidates.

The indictment lists $18,000 in contributions to the "President of the United States," more than $100,000 to the "Wisconsin governor" and more than $100,000 to "U.S. Representative (multiple candidates)." Prosecutors say the conspirators also made "similar illegal contributions" to Dem and GOP PACs.

Prosecutors say none of the candidates have been charged with wrongdoing.

Prosecutors say Erickson deposited $1,000 to his personal account in 2002 and then wrote a $1,000 check to a third party to cover a donation made to U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Janesville. They also alleged Erickson and others made illegal contributions to Ryan in 2003 knowing the money would be reimbursed with corporate funds.

Erickson worked for JHT Holdings Inc. and ATC Leasing during the time of the alleged illegal activity. Both companies were owned by Troha, who was charged earlier this year with funneling money to family members to make illegal campaign contributions in a similar scheme to what prosecutors allege against Erickson.

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