Crime and Court Roundup: Another former Walker aide to be sentenced this morningWisconsin News
-- A former top aide to Governor Scott Walker will be sentenced this morning, after he stole over 20-thousand dollars while Walker was the Milwaukee County executive.
A former top aide to Governor Scott Walker will be sentenced this morning, after he stole over 20-thousand dollars while Walker was the Milwaukee County executive. 49-year-old Tim Russell admitted taking money from the Heritage Guard Preservation Society, which put on an annual program at the county zoo for Wisconsin veterans. Russell pleaded guilty in November to an embezzlement charge. Two theft counts and a misconduct charge were dropped in a plea deal. Prosecutor Bruce Landgraf has recommended two years in prison, while defense lawyer Parker Mathers will seek no prison time and three years of probation. In a pre-sentence report, Landgraf accused Russell of trying to use excuses to have the judge go easy on him. Landgraf said Russell wrongly claimed that the embezzled money was a salary to himself. The prosecutor also said Russell now claims to be the only caretaker for his 94-year-old grandmother – but that never came up during the two-year-old John Doe investigation into Walker’s former Milwaukee County aides. Mathers said the prosecutor misinterpreted Russell’s remarks. He said Russell never claimed to be his grandmother’s sole caretaker – and he’s not trying to reverse his guilty plea for the embezzlement.
Some Wisconsin drug dealers are still being charged with not having a required state tax stamp for their products – even though the Revenue Department stopped selling those stamps in 2004. A federal appeals court said back then that the tax stamp law was all but unconstitutional. But people still get arrested for it – and it’s a felony with up to six years in prison. The Janesville Gazette said 28 people were charged last year with violating the now-defunct tax stamp requirement. In the wake of that news story, the State Patrol says it will soon issue an executive order telling all state troopers to stop arresting people for not having what they can no longer get. Sergeant Nate Clark of the Milwaukee High-Intensity Drug Trafficking enforcement group said he didn’t know that tax stamps are no longer being sold until now. The governor and Legislature started requiring drug tax stamps in 1989, to get a bigger take from the illegal drug trade. But the State Supreme Court said it forced people to incriminate themselves, and it was ruled unconstitutional in 1997. Lawmakers then fine-tuned the law. But in 2004, a federal appeals court said the state was wrong to seize almost five-thousand-dollars from a drug dealer’s assets to pay for a tax stamp. The court said the tax was so severe that it was really a punishment – and adding a drug charge constitutes double jeopardy. The state simply stopped selling the tax stamps after that.
A federal trial is scheduled to begin today in Minneapolis for three members of an Indian gang that’s known to terrorize people – including those on Wisconsin reservations. 34-year-old Wakinyon McArthur is the alleged leader of the Native Mob. McArthur, 25-year-old William Morris, and 26-year-old Anthony Cree all face numerous charges that include conspiracy to commit racketeering, and attempted murder to carry out racketeering. The case is part of a 57-count indictment with 25 defendants. Prosecutors say the racketeering charges are a tool that’s used very rarely against gangs – and observers say it’s an indication that the government is trying to take down the entire organization. The National Gang Threat Assessment from 2011 listed the Native Mob as among the nation’s most violent Indian gangs, most active in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, and the Dakotas. Officials said it was formed in the 1990’s to set up turf for drug dealing. McArthur’s lawyer, Frederick Goetz, said there was never any racketeering. He said the accusations involve individual, sporadic acts by youngsters who’ve had a tough time on reservations.