Morning State News Roundup: Milwaukee man facing federal charges of wire fraudWisconsin News
-- A Milwaukee man faces nine federal charges, for trying to sell expensive jewelry and artwork that former business executive Sue Sachdeva bought with money she embezzled.
MILWAUKEE - A Milwaukee man faces nine federal charges, for trying to sell expensive jewelry and artwork that former business executive Sue Sachdeva bought with money she embezzled.
Tony Chakonas was indicted this week by a federal grand jury on charges of mail-and-wire fraud, and transporting stolen goods across state lines. In 2011, Chakonas and another man were charged with trying to sell the Sachdeva jewelry at an auction house in Chicago. Those charges were dropped. The new charges allege that Chakonas transported 17 pieces of Asian artwork and 14 jewelry items on two separate occasions since 2009 – and the auction house paid him $20,000. Sachdeva was sent to federal prison for 11 years after she embezzled $34-million from Milwaukee’s Koss Corporation. Authorities said she failed to list all of her assets as required in a plea agreement – and a jewelry store where Chakonas worked had held onto 11 jewelry items she bought worth almost a quarter-million dollars. Last year, Sachdeva associate Adam Bruback was sentenced to six months in prison, after he admitted stealing items that Sachdeva bought with the stolen money. The government tried to sell as many of those items as possible, to help Koss recover the money it lost.
The Mukwonago School District says it will not follow an order from a state appeals court to change its Indian team name and logo. A circuit judge had ruled that Mukwonago did not have drop its nickname the “Indians,” saying a state education official was biased in ruling that the name and logo were discriminatory. But last week, the Second District Appellate Court said two parents did not have the legal standing to challenge the decision from the Department of Public Instruction. And the court told Mukwonago to drop its Indian name-and-logo, as required by a 2010 state law. The law allows anyone to file a complaint with the DPI – and if the agency finds that a nickname is discriminatory, the affected school board must drop it or face expensive penalties. Mukwonago Superintendent Paul Strobel says his district has no plans to change its 80-year-old name and logo. And school officials have asked Republican state legislators to repeal the law, while the parents seek to have the Appeals Court decision overturned. State Assembly Republican Steve Nass of Whitewater is considering a bill to either repeal the mandate – or make those who file complaints prove that a student was actually discriminated against because of a nickname or logo. Barbara Munson, who’s with the state’s Indian Mascot and Logo Task Force, said people need to respect different cultures – and she’s upset with Mukwonago’s stance.
Governor Scott Walker has told minority Democrats that he’ll discuss their concerns as the new two-year session goes on. The Republican Walker spent about 15 minutes with state Assembly Democrats yesterday. They asked about his willingness to address gun violence, re-do the state aid formula for public schools, and create a fairer redistricting process. They also asked Walker about his commitment to Wisconsin agriculture, and whether he’d make lighting in state buildings more energy efficient. Walker said he would address those issues as he prepares his state budget request that he’ll deliver to the Legislature next month. And he especially encouraged the 14 newly-elected Assembly Democrats to meet with him often during the session. Walker and majority Republicans teamed up to approve a number of controversial bills in the last session with little-or-no Democratic input. This time, GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos of Burlington has vowed to be a better listener to the minority – but Republicans still have the votes to pass anything they want.
Business leaders expect Governor Scott Walker to propose state funds to train workers for thousands of open jobs. The state currently gets federal job-training funds in a host of programs that often duplicate each other. But the state has never devoted its own tax money to job training – and Competitive Wisconsin proposes 100-million dollars to train workers for an estimated 35-thousand jobs that are going unfilled due to a lack of qualified applicants. The Republican Walker has promised to address the “skills gap” in his budget proposal next month – but he’s given no details. Yesterday, Competitive Wisconsin held a conference on the subject in Milwaukee. The group’s director, Bill McCoshen, said state leaders are recognizing that new approaches are needed. And he sees a consensus toward creating a so-called “talent council” – a body that would coordinate training programs, and connect them with employers’ present-and-future needs. McCoshen, a former state Commerce secretary under Tommy Thompson, also says the state should consolidate its workforce and economic development agencies, so all related programs are under one roof. He says Minnesota does the same thing, and it’s doing a great job. State Senate Finance co-chair Alberta Darling said she expects Walker to propose funds to close the skills gap – but she could not predict how much. Darling also school curricula should be revamped. She said Wisconsin’s universities and tech schools are excellent but quote, “They are not really hitting the mark.”
Milwaukee County prosecutors are considering sex-related charges against a West Allis police detective. The officer was arrested yesterday, and was booked on possible charges of fourth-degree sexual assault and misconduct in public office. The detective was released, pending further action. No details have been released about the allegations.