Long-time Walker aide charged with felony theft - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Long-time Walker aide charged with felony theft

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MILWAUKEE COUNTY-- Milwaukee County's district attorney Thursday charged long-time Scott Walker aide Tim Russell with two felonies and a misdemeanor and alleged Russell siphoned-off thousands in donations intended for veterans to fund vacations to Hawaii and other places, and to pay for a trip to Atlanta last year to meet with then-presidential candidate Herman Cain.

District Attorney John Chisholm also charged two others with crimes,  as a secret John Doe probe lifted more of its veil as Chisholm referred to the investigation shifting into a prosecutorial phase.  The probe last year led to the conviction of railroad owner Bill Gardner for abuses in making campaign contributions to Walker.

In criminal documents, authorities said then Milwaukee County-executive Walker delegated authority to Russell, 48,  to lead a non-profit organization for donations to veterans causes.   Authorities alleged Russell used his position to steal $21,000 of $42,000 donated for veterans.   Documents state Russell used stolen money to fund vacations to Hawaii and other destinations.  Authorities also alleged Russell traveled to Atlanta in 2010 for a strategy session with then presidential-candidate Cain, campaign manager Mark Block and others,  and paid for aspects of the trip with stolen funds.

Authorities also alleged Russell used stolen money to purchase web domain names for Walker's gubernatorial campaign.

Russell appeared in Milwaukee County court Thursday and was released on a $20,000 signature bond.

Chisholm also alleged former Milwaukee County veterans services official Kevin Kavanaugh participated in scams of veterans funds.

"Mr. Kavanaugh is also charged with illegally using funds intended to support the families of Wisconsin servicemen killed in action in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,"  Chisholm said at a Milwaukee news conference.

Chisholm refused to field questions,  citing the continuing secret probe.

Also criminally charged Thursday was Russell's Sun Prairie house mate, Brian Pierick,  who is alleged to have enticed a Waukesha County teenage boy in on-line web chats.

Chisholm acknowledged a top Walker aide in Milwaukee County approached the district attorney and asked for an investigation after county officials were unable to account for $11,000 in donated money to veterans,  leading to the John Doe investigation.

Governor Walker noted his former administration's initiative led to the probe,  but also expressed disappointment in the alleged actions of his former long time aide, and their impact on veterans and their families.

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