Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Defendant pleads guilty in McGee case, agrees to testify

A co-defendant in the state case against Ald. Michael McGee Jr. pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit substantial battery this morning and has agreed to cooperate with investigators and provide testimony in court.

The defendant, Dimitrius L. Jackson, faces up to 3.5 years in prison and a $10,000 fine when he is sentenced Dec. 10.

Jackson was charged with two felony counts for his role in an alleged beating plot. McGee and another co-defendant are also charged in the case. In exchange for his plea, prosecutors dropped the solicitation to commit substantial battery charge he faced and agreed to recommend against federal prosecution he could face for being a felon found in possession of a firearm.

See the state's offer

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McGee trial pushed back

The state trial for Michael McGee has been moved back to March 3.

According to Milwaukee County ADA Bruce Landgraf, a motion filed by McGee's lawyer to challenge federal wiretap evidence could take days to argue and a hearing couldn't be scheduled before the original trial date of Dec. 10, which will now serve as the motion hearing date.

In addition to charges stemming from the beating plot allegation, McGee faces additional counts for alleged election law violations. Evidence for all of the charges will be presented during the March trial, but a separate jury will consider the election-related counts.

McGee is still being held without bail, but that hasn't stopped him from offering a budget amendment for consideration at the Council's budget amendment meeting Thursday.

McGee is asking for $500,000 to be diverted from the police department budget to support unarmed civilian patrols. In a statement, McGee points out that several alderman have organized citizen patrol groups and supported other initiatives that augment police with civilians.

See the release

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Charges against former Brown Co. GOP leader dropped

The Green Bay Press Gazette reports that the Brown County DA has dropped child enticement charges against Don Fleischman, former chairman of the Brown County Republican Party.

Brown County Assistant DA John Luetscher said that prosecution could not proceed since an alleged victim failed to appear at a preliminary hearing. He added that he expected charges to be re-issued later.

Fleischman faced felony counts of child enticement and exposing himself to a child, along with two misdemeanor counts for contributing to the delinquency of a child and one misdemeanor for exposing himself to a child.

See the original criminal complaint

Thursday, October 18, 2007

2nd C.D. Dem chair charged with lewd and lascivious behavior

Dem 2nd Congressional District chair Randy Udell, facing a charge of lewd and lascivious behavior following a sting operation at a public park in Rock County, resigned last night.

Udell didn't return a message left this afternoon seeking comment. Peter Rickman has been named as Udell's replacement for the 2nd CD chair.

The incident follows last week's resignation by the Brown County Republican Party chair, who was charged with performing sexual acts on a boy under 18 and giving marijuana to a minor, according to court documents. See Friday's WisPolitics.com REPORT.

The Rock County district attorney's office didn't return a call from WisPolitics seeking the police report. But according to a report in the Janesville Gazette, Udell was caught in a sting operation at Carver-Roehl Park.

According to the article, Udell was seen Sept. 25 by an officer repeatedly entering and exiting a park restroom and exposed himself to an officer when the officer entered the restroom.

Udell was one of four men arrested in the sting over the last several weeks. Police say the undercover operation began about six weeks ago after deputies noticed an increase in suspicious activity at the park, including men sitting alone in their vehicles.

DPW chairman Joe Wineke said the charges were "disappointing if true," but said he'll reserve judgment.

"I consider Randy a good man," Wineke said. "I don't know what all has happened here. My understanding is he doesn't agree with the charge. I'm not going to prejudge anybody when all I know is what I read in the paper."

According to DPW spokesman Rachel Strauch-Nelson, Rickman has been active with the county party for several years. Last summer, he was elected to the 2nd CD Executive Board. He lives in Madison.

See the Janesville Gazette story:
http://www.gazetteextra.com/carverroehlsexsting101607.asp

Judicial Commission: Ziegler showed "inexcusable neglect"

Annette Ziegler's misconduct was inadvertent and the result of "inexcusable neglect of her responsibilities as a judge," but wasn't intentional and didn't result in financial gain for Ziegler, the state Judicial Commission wrote in a document filed today.

The Judicial Commission was responding to a request from the Judicial Conduct Panel handling Ziegler's discipline case for more information on allegations of misconduct against the new Supreme Court justice.

The commission recommended a censure for Ziegler following its review of the allegations against her, but the panel last month signaled it may widen the probe into the alleged misconduct. It asked Ziegler and the commission to answer a series of questions about various media reports and her family's connection to the West Bend Savings Bank.

Ziegler heard cases while on the Washington County bench involving the bank, for which her husband served on the board of directors.

Ziegler hadn't filed her response by 4 p.m., though she had until 5 p.m. to do so.

The panel's questions included: whether reports that Ziegler and her husband borrowed approximately $2 million from the bank are true; details of any additional income they received through real estate leased to the bank; and her husband's compensation for her service on the board of directors.

The commission responded it had no specific knowledge of any money the Zieglers borrowed from the bank while it reviewed her case, that it did not know of any real estate owned by Ziegler's husband and leased to the bank, and that he was paid $20,000 annually for his service.

*Read the commission's response:
http://www.wispolitics.com/1006/071017_WJC_Response.pdf
*Read the panel's request for more information:
http://www.wispolitics.com/1006/070926_Ziegler_order.pdf

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Abrahamson raises concerns about cost of Supreme Court races in state of judiciary

Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson acknowledged the "tenor and cost" of judicial campaigns may affect the "public trust and confidence in the judiciary" during her state of the judiciary address today in Green Bay.

"I am concerned that the cost of judicial campaigns may keep talented people from running and that the public will perceive that judges are beholden to campaign contributors," Abrahamson said, according to prepared remarks.

Abrahamson pointed out she has previously called for the public financing of Supreme Court races.

"We must do everything in our power to ensure that Wisconsin continues to have a fair, impartial, neutral, and non-partisan judiciary and that we maintain public trust and confidence in the judicial system," she said.

This spring's race between Madison attorney Linda Clifford and Washington County Judge Annette Ziegler shattered the previous spending record for a Supreme Court race with the two combining to spend $2.7 million. With spending by outside groups, the cost of this year's race hit more than $5.8 million by one estimate. Some insiders predict an even higher-spending race in spring '08 as Doyle-appointed Justice Louis Butler tries for a 10-year term.

Read Abrahamson's remarks:
http://www.wicourts.gov/about/pubs/supreme/docs/judaddress07.pdf

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Brown County GOP chair charged with child enticement, contributing to delinquency of a child

The Brown County Republican Party chair has been charged with performing sexual acts on a boy under 18 and giving marijuana to a minor, according to court documents.
 
Donald Fleischman faces felony counts of child enticement and exposing himself to a child along with two misdemeanor counts for contributing to the delinquency of a child and one misdemeanor for exposing himself to a child, according to the criminal complaint.

"We just learned about this this morning, and to our knowledge he has resigned his position. We don't know any other details," RPW spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski said Friday.
 
Fleischman faces a maximum sentence of up to 52 years and three months and a fine of up to $230,000.
 
Fleischman didn't return calls to his home phone or business phone. His attorney, Jeffrey Jazgar, failed to return calls by press time.
 
The address for Fleischman in the Brown County criminal complaint is the same one listed on the Republican Party of Brown County's most recent campaign finance report filed with the state Elections Board as well as its 527 Political Organization Filing Information. There was only one listing for a Don Fleischman in Green Bay.
 
Fleischman allegedly allowed at least two 16-year-old boys to stay at his house and told one of them he could "smoke pot and drink alcohol" at his house and not have to worry about anything, according to the criminal complaint.
 
The complaint was filed Sept. 7, 2007 and says the incidents took place in 2006.
 
The boys lived at home for at-risk youth receiving court-ordered treatment that is located across the street from Fleischman's house. Fleischman allegedly offered the boys marijuana, and one of the juveniles alleged that Fleischman said he could stay at his house if he ever ran away.
 
One of the victims said Fleischman allegedly told him "it would be cool for him to have two 16-year-old roommates and he stated he would even do their laundry for them."
 
Green Bay Police Officer Rodney Reetz responded to Fleischman's residence Nov. 19, 2006, where he allegedly found one of the runaway boys from the Ethan House, according to the criminal complaint. The boy was hiding in an upstairs closet wearing only a T-shirt and underpants, according to the complaint. The boy said that two other juveniles allegedly were at the house and left earlier that day.
 
Green Bay Police Officer David Paral went to Fleischman's residence Dec. 8, 2006, when he allegedly found one of the same juveniles at his house in the upstairs bedroom. The criminal complaint alleges that Fleischman was trying to get the juvenile to turn himself into police for running away.
 
The complaint alleges that Fleischman fondled the boy when they would go to bed and performed other sexual acts on the boy.
 
Fleischman, who was released on a $20,000 signature bond, was ordered not to consume alcohol, to have no contact with any minor children and to move within 60 days of Sept. 28, according to the Wisconsin Circuit Court Access system.
 
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Oct. 29.
 
See the criminal complaint

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Ziegler hearing set for Washington County

Supreme Court Justice Annette Ziegler's discipline hearing next month will be held in Washington County.

The Judicial Conduct Panel, which will make a recommendation on Ziegler's potential discipline for violating conflict of interest rules, had asked Ziegler and the Judicial Commission if they would object to holding the hearing in Milwaukee. Ziegler responded this week that she preferred the hearing in her home county, as allowed under state statutes.

The hearing is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Nov. 19 at a site that will be determined later.

Read the order:
http://www.wispolitics.com/1006/_071004_Ziegler_order.pdf

See the venue requests:
http://www.wispolitics.com/1006/071003ZieglerLocale.pdf

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