Friday, March 28, 2008

Jensen asks for decision on trial venue

Prosecutors have asked a state appeals court to make a pre-trial decision on whether the proper venue for Scott Jensen's re-trial is Dane County or Waukesha County.

Jensen has asked to have the trial moved to his home county of Waukesha, citing an ethics law lawmakers approved last year. Prosecutors oppose the move, saying the 2007 law does not apply to the 2002 charges against him.

Dane County Judge David Flanagan denied Jensen's request to move the trial, and the former lawmaker appealed that ruling.

Read the brief:
http://www.wispolitics.com/1006/080327_DOJ_Jensen_filing.pdf

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Supreme Court: Former Sen. George can get law license back in June

The state Supreme Court today decided not to revoke the law license of former state Sen. Gary George, instead settling on suspension that will allow the Milwaukee Democrat to apply to get his license back in June.

A referee had recommended revoking George's license for his felony convictions in a kickback scheme that landed him in federal prison.

The court found that while George's "misconduct was, indeed extremely serious, it does not warrant the harshest penalty of revocation."

The court decided on a suspension of four years, three months and made it retroactive to March 8, 2004, when George's license was initially suspended following his guilty plea. The ruling noted it was, perhaps, the longest suspension imposed by the court in an attorney disciplinary matter.

The justices noted lawyers whose licenses are revoked may apply for reinstatement after five years; those who have their licenses suspended for more than six months must ask to have their licenses reinstated as well.

George was also ordered to pay the costs of the disciplinary proceedings, which were $14,064.72 as of Dec. 17, 2007, according to the decision.

Justice Louis Butler and David Prosser did not participate in the ruling.

Read the decision:
http://www.wicourts.gov/sc/opinion/DisplayDocument.pdf?content=pdf&seqNo=32236

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Real-estate expert: Lupton's actions may be legal

A Milwaukee real-estate expert testified today that although it may seem counterintuitive, an indicted real estate broker's actions regarding the now-halted sale of a state office building were permissible, as long as they were to be disclosed in an offer to purchase.

The purpose of today's hearing before U.S. District Court Judge Lynn Adelman was to determine if Martin Greenberg will be allowed to testify as an expert witness at Lupton's trial. Greenberg is former chair of the Wisconsin State Fair Board and a managing member of Greenberg & Hoeschen LLC, which specializes in real estate and sports law. He's also an adjunct professor at Marquette University, where he has taught real estate and sports law for more than 30 years.

Adelman withheld a decision and requested the parties to file briefs.

Federal prosecutors allege the agent, Larry Lupton, solicited an illegal $75,000 kickback and shared confidential bid information with brokers representing potential buyers of a state office building. Lupton represented the commercial real estate firm Equis, which had the contract to sell the building.

Greenberg said it's normal for brokers to discuss how commissions will be split, but it must be disclosed in writing and agreed to when an offer to purchase is drafted.

Greenberg also disagreed with the government that the letter of intent Lupton received from a potential buyer is confidential information because it's non-binding and amounts to a proposal under the law, which he said brokers can share.

"There was absolutely no breach of confidentiality," Greenberg said, adding that Lupton's action drove up the price the state would receive.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Doyle authorizes payment of Thompson's legal fees

Gov. Doyle signed legislation Tuesday authorizing nearly $229,000 in state money to cover Georgia Thompson's legal costs.

The new law is the final financial restitution for Thompson, who was convicted of rigging a state travel contract and served 18 months in prison before a federal appeals court overturned the conviction. She has already received lost wages from her position at the Department of Administration.

The bill was one of 11 signed into law by Doyle today.

See the press release: http://www.wispolitics.com/index.iml?Article=120632

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Friday, March 07, 2008

Troha sentenced to six months probation

Kenosha businessman Dennis Troha was sentenced to six months probation today for a scheme in which he funneled money to family members for campaign donations to get around contribution limits as he tried to build support for a proposed Kenosha casino and affect trucking regulations.

"I want to accept full responsibilities for these actions," Troha said during the hearing, adding that he feels that he is getting what he deserves.

Troha had faced up to two years in prison and a $200,000 fine under a plea deal he reached last year, though prosecutors recommended a lighter sentence because he has cooperated with them. Troha was only ordered to pay a $100 assessment in addition to the probation.

U.S. District Court Judge J.P. Stadtmueller told Troha to take the money he could have been fined and invest it in the Kenosha community. He left the amount of the contribution up to Troha. His attorney Franklyn Gimbel told reporters that he expects by next week Troha will have done something for a "philanthropic enterprise."

Troha entered a guilty plea in federal court in July to two charges of conspiring to violate state and federal campaign laws for making illegal campaign contributions to the Democratic Party and President Bush. Two other Troha associates, Achille Infusino and John Erickson, have also pleaded guilty to related violations. Kenosha County Executive Allan Kehl also has been charged as part of the investigation.

Both U.S. Attorney Steven Biskupic and Gimbel referenced how Troha had completely cooperated with authorities during the investigation, and that this was one reason for leniency. Biskupic said Troha deserved to be rewarded for those efforts.

"I think the judge put Dennis Troha's life in proper perspective," Gimbel told reporters afterward. He continued by saying that Troha's immediate concern was addressing his health problems. Troha was recently diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Troha and Biskupic declined to comment after the verdict was read.

The former trucking executive, who had been instrumental in the efforts to land an off-reservation casino in Kenosha, pleaded guilty in June to two misdemeanor counts for exceeding campaign contribution limits. He had originally been charged with felony wire fraud and making false statements to the FBI.

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Jensen asks appeals court to move trial

Scott Jensen has asked an appeals court to grant his request to move his re-trial to Waukesha County or grant him leave to appeal on the issue.

Jensen is seeking to have his second trial on felony charges filed in 2002 moved to his home county as allowed under the ethics overhaul lawmakers approved last year. A Dane County judge has already denied that request.

Jensen argues in his appeal that the circuit court erred in its decision and asked the appeals court to consider sending the case directly to the state Supreme Court.

In the filing, Jensen argues a second conviction in Dane County would result in yet another retrial if he's convicted because it's the wrong venue.

"To overreach and yet again deprive Petitioner of his basic rights is not only improper, but an enormous waste of State resources," his attorneys wrote in the brief.

Read the petition:
http://www.wispolitics.com/1006/080306_Jensen_Writ.pdf

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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

McGee federal trial date set

Milwaukee Alderman Michael McGee Jr. faces a trial date on federal charges of April 7, a little after he goes before the voters for re-election to his City Council seat on April 1.

Federal prosecutors said they expect the trial to last 10-12 days.

During a hearing today, McGee's attorney, Calvin Malone, said he wanted the trial concluded before the May 19 state trial.

McGee faces federal charges of bribery, extortion and attempting to skirt reporting requirements for a large cash transaction. He faces state charges that allege his involvement in a beating conspiracy and election law violations.

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