Crime and Court Roundup: Former Walker aide sentenced to two years prisonWisconsin News
-- Former Milwaukee County Walker aide Tim Russell said he alone set up the mechanism which allowed him to embezzle 21-thousand dollars from a veterans’ program.
Former Milwaukee County Walker aide Tim Russell said he alone set up the mechanism which allowed him to embezzle 21-thousand dollars from a veterans’ program. Russell was sentenced to two years in prison and five years of probation yesterday. And Circuit Judge David Hansher wanted to know if anyone else was in on the scheme. Governor Walker – who was the Milwaukee County executive at the time – put Russell in charge of an annual program at the Milwaukee County Zoo to benefit veterans. Russell said he convinced Walker to change the group that managed the program, so it could continue after Walker was elected governor. But instead, prosecutors said he stole five-thousand-dollars on the first day he had control of the new group’s bank account. And the judge said Russell embezzled 50-percent of the money he raised for the program in 2010. He apologized in court yesterday, saying it hurt him that he effectively ended the program. But Judge Hansher said he found Russell’s apology insincere.
The U-S Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives has a new special agent to oversee Wisconsin. Scott Sweetow, the current head of the A-T-F office in Atlanta, has named yesterday as the new special agent for the Saint Paul Field Division. The unit handles A-T-F operations in its home state of Minnesota as well as Wisconsin, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Sweetow replaces Bernard Zapor, who was promoted in November as the deputy assistant director of the A-T-F’s Central Region. Zapor now oversees 18 states – and he’s involved with the agency’s Special Operations Division. Sweetow is a 22-year veteran of the A-T-F. He started as an arson-and-explosives investigator in Los Angeles – and he’s been involved in such high-profile cases as the bombings in Oklahoma City, and at Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta during the 1996 Games.
A Milwaukee police officer is free on a signature bond, after he allegedly stole 200-dollars from a store where he was investigating a burglary. 37-year-old Carl Howell is charged with misdemeanor theft and felony misconduct in public office. Prosecutors said Howell responded to a burglary in late November at a Milwaukee convenience store. The owner showed the officer a drawer of cash that the burglar had by-passed. A few minutes, Howell allegedly went back to the drawer, put cash in his pocket, and walked out. Officials said he was caught on the store’s surveillance video. Prosecutors said Howell took the 200-dollars because he was behind on his rent. He’s due back in court January 31st, when a judge will decide if there’s enough evidence to order a trial.
At one point yesterday, people out walking in the Dodge County seat of Juneau were not just cold – they could have been rounded up for jury duty. The flu caused a shortage of jurors for a trial. So Circuit Judge Brian Pfitzinger wanted the sheriff to take to the streets of Juneau, find six jurors, and bring them in. Sheriff Todd Nehls says it’s happened before – but the last thing he wanted were irate jurors snatched off the streets. Nehls thought it could have made the prosecutor or the defendant uneasy – so instead, he contacted his squad of volunteers called the “Sheriff’s Posse.” And six of them agreed to the complete jury pool. Nehls said he was proud of the Posse members who volunteered. The court appreciated it, and the wheels-of-justice kept moving forward.
The head priest of a Milwaukee Hare Krishna temple has been sentenced to three years in a federal prison for conspiring to defraud the government. Prosecutors said 33-year-old Sagarsen Haldar violated immigration laws by bringing in fake priests from India as part of a visa program for religious workers – and he then extorted money from those people. Haldar brought in two dozen people over a two-year period to work at his Milwaukee temple. But authorities said they were actually indentured servants who worked outside the temple, and gave their paychecks to Haldar. Judge Rudolph Randa’s sentence was two years shorter than what prosecutors recommended. Assistant U-S Attorney Greg Haanstad said Haldar did not accept responsibility for what he did. Court records showed that Haldar committed retail theft after he was convicted of the visa fraud – and he stole a computer from a store several years ago. Haldar’s attorney offered proof that his client did a number of good things at his Milwaukee temple. Judge Randa said there was plenty of evidence that Haldar was an honest-and-caring person – but he then asked how someone so religious could engage in criminal behavior.