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UPDATE: Former Walker associate to get out of prison early

UPDATE: A former associate of Gov. Scott Walker who was convicted of stealing more than $51,000 meant for veterans is getting out of prison early.

Kevin Kavanaugh

UPDATED Friday, December 20, 2013 --- 4:02 p.m.

RACINE, Wis. (AP) -- A former associate of Gov. Scott Walker who was convicted of stealing more than $51,000 meant for veterans is getting out of prison early.

A jury last year convicted 63-year-old Kevin D. Kavanaugh of felony theft. He was sentenced to two years in prison, and he's served just over half the time.

The state Department of Corrections said Friday that Kavanaugh completed certain requirements of an early-release program, which makes him eligible to convert the rest of his sentence to extended supervision.

Defense attorney Chris Hartley says Kavanaugh had an alcohol problem, but apparently completed treatment successfully in prison.

Prosecutor Kurt Benkley said he was aware of the court document Wednesday ordering that Kavanaugh be released within 30 days. He says the decision is routine for these types of cases.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Thursday, November 29, 2012 --- 2:19 p.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- One of Gov. Scott Walker's former aides has pleaded guilty to stealing thousands of dollars from a nonprofit group in a deal with prosecutors.

Tim Russell worked for Walker between 2002 and 2010 during Walker's stint as Milwaukee County executive. Prosecutors charged Russell in January with stealing at least $21,000 from a nonprofit group Walker asked him to lead and stealing money from two county board candidates' campaigns.

Russell pleaded guilty to stealing from the group on Thursday. Prosecutors in exchange dismissed the campaign theft charges.

The charges were part of a secret probe prosecutors launched into Walker's associates and campaign donors in May 2010, before he became governor. Three former aides and a Walker campaign donor already have been convicted.

The governor himself hasn't been charged with any wrongdoing.

Copyright 2012: Associated Press

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UPDATED: Wednesday, November 28, 2012 --- 9:15 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The judge overseeing the investigation into former aides of Gov. Scott Walker says the probe remains open.

Walker said on Tuesday that he hoped the so-called "John Doe" investigation would end as early as this week.

But retired Waukesha County Judge Neal Nettesheim told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from his home Wednesday "that would be pure conjecture."

Nettesheim says, "The John Doe is not completed. It is still open."

The investigation began in May 2010 and has resulted in six people being charged with crimes and four convictions. One person, Tim Russell, has reached a plea deal with prosecutors in his felony embezzlement case and has a plea hearing set for Thursday.

Another former Walker aide Darlene Wink has a Jan. 10 sentencing hearing.

Copyright 2012: Associated Press
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UPDATED Tuesday, November 27, 2012 --- 2:30 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Gov. Scott Walker says he hopes Milwaukee County prosecutors' secret probe into his former county associates and campaign donors ends this week.

The probe began in 2010 during Walker's stint as Milwaukee County executive. Three former aides, a donor and a former appointee have been charged with crimes ranging from misconduct in office to theft.

The only one who hasn't been convicted is former aide Timothy Russell. He plans to enter a plea agreement Thursday to settle a felony embezzlement case.

Prosecutors haven't accused Walker of any wrongdoing. During a question-and-answer period with the audience at a Wisconsin Dairy Association conference in Madison on Tuesday, Walker said he hopes the investigation will end this week.

Assistant District Attorney Bruce Landgraf, who is leading the investigation, didn't immediately return a message.

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Friday, November 2, 2012 --- 11:50 a.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- A former aide to Gov. Scott Walker is set to go to trial.

Tim Russell was Walker's deputy chief of staff when Walker was Milwaukee County executive. Russell is charged with stealing more than $21,000 from a nonprofit Walker asked him to lead.

Russell's attorney asked the case be dismissed over an issue with a previous attorney, but a judge denied it Friday. Assistant District Attorney Bruce Landgraf says it was also Russell's last chance to accept any plea deal.

The jury trial is set to begin Dec. 3.

Five other Walker associates have also been charged. Two were convicted -- one of stealing more than $51,000 in donations for veterans and their families; and the other of doing campaign work at her county job.

Walker hasn't been charged.

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Friday, November 2, 2012 --- 7:45 a.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- A former aide to Gov. Scott Walker is scheduled for a final hearing, ahead of a trial next month on theft charges.

Tim Russell was Walker's deputy chief of staff when Walker was the Milwaukee County executive. Russell is charged with stealing more than $21,000 from a nonprofit Walker asked him to lead.

Russell is due in court Friday morning for a pre-trial hearing. A jury trial is set to begin Dec. 3.

Five other Walker associates have also been charged following a secret investigation Milwaukee prosecutors launched into Walker's office. Two were convicted last month -- one of stealing more than $51,000 that had been donated to help veterans and their families; and the other of doing campaign work at her taxpayer-paid county job.

Walker has not been charged.

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.

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UPDATED: Friday, October 12, 2012 --- 6:40p.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- A Milwaukee County jury has convicted one of Gov. Scott Walker's former associates of stealing money donated to help veterans and their families.

Jurors Friday convicted 62-year-old Kevin Kavanaugh of Cudahy of stealing more than $51,000.

Prosecutors alleged that Kavanaugh had skimmed the money from bank deposits and phony withdrawals from accounts for the Military Order of the Purple Heart, a veterans service organization.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (http://bit.ly/W1r8hG) reports Kavanaugh said nothing following the verdict. Sentencing is set for Dec. 7.

The defense argued Kavanaugh was simply a terrible bookkeeper.

Walker appointed Kavanaugh to the county Veterans Service Commission when Walker was Milwaukee County executive.

Kavanaugh was charged as part of a secret investigation Milwaukee prosecutors launched into Walker's office. The governor has not been charged with any wrongdoing.

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Information from: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, http://www.jsonline.com

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Thursday, October 11, 2012 --- 2:25 p.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- One of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's former top aides has pleaded guilty to a count of felony misconduct in office in a deal with prosecutors.

Kelly Rindfleisch entered the plea Thursday in front of Milwaukee County Circuit Judge David Hansher.

Rindfleisch served as Walker's deputy chief of staff during the Republican's tenure as Milwaukee County executive in 2010. Prosecutors have accused her of working on Republican Brett Davis' lieutenant governor campaign on county time.

She faced four felony counts of misconduct in office. She reached a deal with Milwaukee County Assistant District Attorney Bruce Landgraf calling for her to plead to one count and Landgraf to drop the others. He also agreed to recommend she be sentenced to jail and probation rather than prison and promised not to seek restitution.

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Thursday, October 11, 2012 --- 7:30 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- One of Republican Gov. Scott Walker's former top aides is expected to plead to one felony misconduct count in a deal with prosecutors.

Kelly Rindfleisch is scheduled to appear before Milwaukee County Circuit Judge David A. Hansher at a plea hearing Thursday afternoon.

Rindfleisch served as Walker's deputy chief of staff during Walker's tenure as Milwaukee County executive in 2010. Prosecutors allege she worked for Republican Brett Davis' lieutenant governor campaign on county time. She faces four felony counts of misconduct in office.

A plea bargain Rindfleisch's attorney reached with Assistant District Attorney Bruce Landgraf calls for her to plead to one of the counts and Landgraf to drop the remaining three. The prosecutor also has agreed to recommend she serve probation and jail time rather than prison.

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Wednesday, October 10, 2012 --- 1:12 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- One of Gov. Scott Walker's former top aides has agreed to plead to one felony misconduct charge in a deal with Milwaukee County prosecutors.

Kelly Rindfleisch is set to stand trial Monday on four counts of felony misconduct in office. Prosecutors have accused her of doing campaign work while she was supposed to be serving as Walker's deputy chief of staff during his stint as Milwaukee County executive.

Rindfleisch's attorney, Franklyn Gimbel, released the plea bargain Wednesday. The deal calls for Rindfleisch to plead to one of the counts.

Prosecutors have agreed to drop the remaining charges and seek no fines or forfeitures. They also have agreed to recommend she serve probation and an unspecified time in jail.

A hearing on the deal is set for Thursday.

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.

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UPDATED: Tuesday, October 9, 2012 --- 6:13p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A Milwaukee County judge has scheduled a plea hearing for one of Gov. Scott Walker's former aides to settle felony misconduct allegations.

Kelly Rindfleisch is scheduled to go to trial next week on four felony counts of misconduct in office. Her attorney, Franklyn Gimbel, has subpoenaed Walker to testify.

But online court records indicate Gimbel and Milwaukee County Assistant District Attorney Bruce Landgraf asked Judge David Hansher Tuesday to set up a plea hearing. Hansher scheduled the proceeding for Thursday.

Landgraf didn't immediately return a message. Gimbel told The Associated Press in a telephone interivew he can't comment because he's still negotiating with Landgraf.

Prosecutors have accused Rindfleisch of campaigning on county time during her stint as Walker's deputy chief of staff while Walker was Milwaukee County executive.

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Monday, October 8, 2012 --- 10:59 p.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- One of Gov. Scott Walker's former associates is on trial on charges he embezzled about $42,000 from veterans' groups.

Kevin D. Kavanaugh of Cudahy has pleaded not guilty to felony theft and felony fraud.

Most of the money was raised for Operation Freedom, an annual veterans' event hosted by Walker while he was Milwaukee County executive, according to a criminal complaint.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (http://bit.ly/OiX5Pk) reports Assistant District Attorney Kurt Benkley told jurors that Kavanaugh regularly skimmed money and took it for himself in cash.

Defense attorney Christopher Hartley says Kavanaugh was a "lousy bookkeeper -- absolutely lousy. But that's not what he's on trial for here."

Kavanaugh was charged as part of a secret investigation into activity in Walker's office. The governor has not been charged with anything.

Copyright 2012: Associated Press

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UPDATED: Monday, October 8, 2012 --- 1:10 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A subpoena has been filed with the court requiring Gov. Scott Walker to testify in the trial of a former Milwaukee County staffer.

Kelly Rindfleisch is accused of using county time to conduct campaign work for a Republican who lost a lieutenant governor race in 2010. Rindfleisch was Walker's deputy chief of staff when he was the Milwaukee County executive.

She's pleaded not guilty to four felony counts of misconduct in office.

The subpoena has been served on Walker's attorney, Michael Steinle and has been filed with Milwaukee County Judge David Hanscher.

Walker was previously identified by a prosecutor as a potential witness in the Oct. 15 trial. Rindfleisch is one of six Walker associates facing charges that arose from a secret investigation.

Copyright 2012: Associated Press

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UPDATED Monday, October 8, 2012 --- 6:40 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- One of Gov. Scott Walker's former associates is set to stand trial this week on charges he embezzled about $42,000 from veterans' groups.

Kevin D. Kavanaugh of Cudahy has pleaded not guilty to one count of felony theft and four counts of felony fraud. His trial is set to begin Monday in Milwaukee. The proceedings are scheduled to run through Friday.

Walker served as Milwaukee County executive before he was elected governor in 2010. During his tenure with the county, Walker appointed Kavanaugh to the county Veterans Service Commission. Prosecutors say he stole donations intended for veterans and their families.

He was charged as part of a secret investigation into activity in Walker's office. The governor has not been charged with anything.

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Monday, September 24, 2012 --- 10:35 a.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- A Milwaukee County judge says he won't let the upcoming trial for a former Scott Walker aide turn into a referendum on the governor.

Judge David Hansher said Monday that he'll emphasize to jurors that Kelly M. Rindfleisch is on trial, not Walker.

Rindfleisch used to be Walker's deputy chief of staff when Walker was Milwaukee County's executive. She's accused of doing campaign work on county time.

The 43-year-old has pleaded not guilty to four felony counts of misconduct in office. The defense has argued that prosecutors are basing their case on information Rindfleisch gave under promise of immunity in 2002.

Prosecutor Bruce Landgraf and defense attorney Frank Gimbel both declined comment after Monday's pre-trial hearing. Rindfleisch's jury trial is set to begin in three weeks.

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UPDATED Friday, September 7, 2012 --- 9:55 a.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- A former associate to Gov. Scott Walker will face a jury trial next month on charges that he embezzled about $42,000 from veterans' groups.

Kevin D. Kavanaugh of Cudahy has pleaded not guilty to felony theft and fraud charges.

At a pretrial hearing Friday, lawyers for the prosecution and defense finalized some minor issues ahead of an Oct. 8 trial. They said they expect it to last about a week.

Before Walker was elected governor he was the Milwaukee County executive. In that role he appointed Kavanaugh to the county Veterans Service Commission.

Prosecutors say Kavanaugh and another former Walker associate stole donations intended to help military veterans and their families.

Kavanaugh was charged as part of an investigation into activity in Walker's office. Walker has not been charged.

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Friday, September 7, 2012 --- 7:30 a.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- A former associate to Gov. Scott Walker is scheduled to make his final court appearance this week ahead of a trial next month on embezzlement charges.

Kevin D. Kavanaugh of Cudahy is accused of embezzling about $42,000 from veterans' groups. The 62-year-old has pleaded not guilty to felony theft and fraud charges.

He's due in court Friday morning for a pre-trial hearing that was postponed from Tuesday.

Before Walker was elected governor he was the Milwaukee County executive. In that role he appointed Kavanaugh to the county Veterans Service Commission.

Prosecutors say Kavanaugh and another former Walker associate stole donations intended to help military veterans and their families.

Kavanaugh was charged as part of an investigation into activity in Walker's office. Walker has not been charged.

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Tuesday, September 4, 2012 --- 10:45 a.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- A final pre-trial hearing has been postponed for Kevin D. Kavanaugh, a former associate to Gov. Scott Walker who's accused of embezzling about $42,000 from veteran groups.

The 62-year-old has pleaded not guilty to felony theft and fraud charges. His pre-trial hearing Tuesday morning was rescheduled to Friday. His trial is scheduled to start next month.

Before Walker was elected governor he was the Milwaukee County executive. In that role he appointed Kavanaugh to the county Veterans Service Commission.

Prosecutors say Kavanaugh and another former Walker associate stole donations intended to help military veterans and their families.

Kavanaugh was charged as part of a secret, so-called John Doe investigation into activity in Walker's office. Walker has not been charged and has said he's not a target of the investigation.

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Tuesday, September 4, 2012 --- 5:30 a.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- A final pre-trial hearing is set for Kevin D. Kavanaugh, a former associate to Gov. Scott Walker who's accused of embezzling about $42,000 from veteran groups.

The 62-year-old has pleaded not guilty to felony theft and fraud charges. He's due in court Tuesday morning for a pre-trial hearing ahead of a trial scheduled to start next month.

Before he was elected governor, Walker was the Milwaukee County executive. In that role he appointed Kavanaugh to the county Veterans Service Commission.

Prosecutors say Kavanaugh and another former Walker associated stole donations intended to help military veterans and their families.

Kavanaugh was charged as part of a secret, so-called John Doe investigation into activity in Walker's office. Walker has not been charged and has said he's not a target of the investigation.

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Thursday, August 16, 2012 --- 7:45 a.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- New documents show the John Doe investigation involving Gov. Scott Walker's tenure as Milwaukee County executive has expanded to state government.

Records obtained by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel through an open records request show a Milwaukee County prosecutor sought personnel records from Walker's state office and another agency in June and then met with a state attorney the following day.

The Journal Sentinel (http://tinyurl.com/d7h4eb7 ) says the records contain no indication of any impropriety. Walker spokeswoman Jocelyn Webster says she doesn't know why the Milwaukee County District Attorney's office wanted the documents.

Prosecutors have long been looking into campaign and other issues from the time Walker served as county executive. One former Walker aide has pleaded guilty to raising campaign funds while on the job in the county executive's office. Three other aides or appointees have been charged with felonies.

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Information from: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, http://www.jsonline.com

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.

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UPDATE Tuesday, July 17, 2012 --- 2:02 p.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Sentencing has been postponed for a second time for an aide to Gov. Scott Walker when he was Milwaukee County executive.

Sixty-one-year-old Darlene J. Wink pleaded guilty in February to two misdemeanor charges. She was to be sentenced Tuesday, but the judge once again granted a prosecutor's request to push the sentencing back, this time until Nov. 21.

Wink was convicted of working on a political campaign on county time.

As part of Wink's plea deal, she agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in ongoing investigations of other associates close to now-Gov. Walker. Assistant district attorney Bruce Landgraf told the judge two investigations are still in progress.

Defense attorney Peter Wolff says his client is eager to have the matter closed, but she will continue to cooperate.

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Tuesday, July 17, 2012 --- 6:40 a.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- A former aide to then-Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker is due to be sentenced on charges of working on a political campaign on county time.

Sixty-one-year-old Darlene J. Wink pleaded guilty in February to two misdemeanor charges. She's scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday.

The counts carry a maximum combined penalty of one year in prison and a $2,000 fine. However, as part of the plea agreement, prosecutors have agreed not to recommend prison time.

Wink was to be sentenced two months ago, but prosecutors asked for an extension. They said the plea deal required that she cooperate in ongoing investigations of other associates close to Walker.

Five other Walker aides and associates have also been charged, on allegations ranging from embezzlement to campaigning on county time. Walker hasn't been charged.

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Monday, June 4, 2012 --- 11:30 a.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- The trial date has been pushed back for a former aide to Gov. Scott Walker who's charged with embezzlement.

Timothy D. Russell worked for Walker when Walker was the Milwaukee County executive. Russell has pleaded not guilty to three embezzlement charges stemming from allegations that he stole more than $21,000 from a nonprofit organization.

Russell's jury trial was originally set for June 18. At a hearing Monday it was pushed back to Sept. 10.

Russell is one of six Walker aides and associates charged with crimes. The charges stem from a secret John Doe investigation. Walker has repeatedly said he is not a target of the investigation, and he hasn't been charged with wrongdoing.

Walker is being challenged in Tuesday's recall election by Democratic challenger and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.

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Posted Monday, June 4, 2012 --- 6:45 a.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- A former aide to Gov. Scott Walker when Walker was the Milwaukee County executive is due in court for a final pre-trial hearing.

Timothy D. Russell has pleaded not guilty to three embezzlement charges. He's accused of stealing more than $21,000 from a nonprofit organization that Walker asked him to lead.

The hearing is Monday morning. Russell's jury trial begins two weeks later.

Russell is one of six Walker aides and associates charged with crimes. The charges stem from a secret John Doe investigation. Walker has repeatedly said he is not a target of the investigation, and he hasn't been charged with wrongdoing.

Walker faces a recall election Tuesday. His Democratic opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, has been trying to use the investigation to raise questions about Walker's leadership.

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Thursday, May 31, 2012 --- 2:05 p.m.

By DINESH RAMDE
Associated Press

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- A 13th person has been granted immunity in a secret Milwaukee County investigation that has already led to criminal charges against six people close to Gov. Scott Walker.

Online court records say a judge on Thursday granted Fran McLaughlin's request for immunity.

McLaughlin served as Walker's county spokeswoman from 2007 to 2010, when Walker was the Milwaukee County executive. She's now the spokeswoman for Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke.

When reached for comment, defense attorney Michael A.I. Whitcomb cited court rules preventing him from discussing the case.

The John Doe investigation centers on several aides and associates to Walker before he was elected governor in 2010. The allegations range from campaigning on county time to embezzling money from a veterans program.

Walker hasn't been charged with wrongdoing.

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Tuesday, May 15, 2012 --- 2:45 p.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- A Milwaukee County judge has postponed the sentencing of a former Scott Walker aide convicted of two misdemeanors.

The prosecutor and defense attorney had submitted a joint recommendation that Darlene Wink's sentencing be postponed. Judge Daniel Konkol granted the request Tuesday. Her hearing is now set for July 17.

Wink was an aide to Gov. Walker when he was the Milwaukee County executive. She pleaded guilty in February to working on Walker's gubernatorial campaign on county time.

Prosecutors already agreed not to recommend prison time in exchange for Wink's cooperation in other related investigations. Prosecutor Bruce Landgraf says he wanted her sentencing delayed because those other investigations were still going on.

Defense attorney Peter Wolff says Wink would like her case resolved, but she also wants to cooperate with prosecutors.

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Tuesday, May 15, 2012 --- 6:50 a.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- A Milwaukee County judge is expected to postpone the sentencing of a former Scott Walker aide convicted of two misdemeanors.

Darlene J. Wink is due in court Tuesday afternoon. The 61-year-old was an aide to Gov. Walker when he was the Milwaukee County executive.

Wink pleaded guilty in February to working on Walker's gubernatorial campaign on county time.

Defense attorney Peter Wolff and prosecutor Bruce Landgraf will ask that sentencing be postponed. Wolff told The Associated Press there are some elements of a deferred prosecution that are still being worked out.

The judge is expected to grant the postponement.

Wink is the first person convicted as a result of a secret investigation into Walker's Milwaukee County staff. Four others also face charges. Walker has not been charged.

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Wednesday, May 9, 2012 --- 6:54 p.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- A 12th witness has been granted immunity in a secret Milwaukee County investigation that has already led to criminal charges against five people close to Gov. Scott Walker.

Online court records say David Halbrooks was granted immunity Wednesday. Halbrooks declined comment when reached by The Associated Press.

The website of Milwaukee law firm Maistelman & Associates Inc. lists Halbrooks as an "of counsel." The term generally refers to an outside lawyer who provides specific legal expertise to a law firm.

The secret investigation involves allegations that some people close to Walker campaigned on county time and others embezzled money from a veterans program. The governor has not been charged with wrongdoing and says he's cooperating with the investigation.

Other witnesses who have been granted immunity include Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie.

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Tuesday, March 20, 2012 --- 10:10 a.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- A former aide to Scott Walker before Walker became governor has pleaded not guilty to four felony charges related to campaigning while at work for Milwaukee County.

Kelly M. Rindfleisch was Walker's deputy chief of staff when he was Milwaukee County executive. She's accused of doing campaign work while on the clock.

Her attorney entered not-guilty pleas on her behalf Tuesday. A hearing to discuss a change-of-venue motion was set for March 30.

Rindfleisch is one of five Walker associates facing charges in a secret investigation. Another former aide has pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges.

Walker hasn't been charged with wrongdoing but has set up a legal defense fund. The move is allowed only for officeholders who have been charged or are under investigation for election or campaign violations.

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Tuesday, March 20, 2012 --- 7:55 a.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- A former aide to Scott Walker before he became governor is scheduled to enter pleas to four felony charges relating to campaigning while at work for Milwaukee County.

Kelly M. Rindfleisch was Walker's deputy chief of staff when he was Milwaukee County executive. The 43-year-old Rindfleisch is accused of doing campaign work while on the clock, including fundraising for a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor.

She's scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday morning.

Rindfleisch is one of five Walker associates facing charges in a secret investigation. Another former aide has pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges.

Walker hasn't been charged with wrongdoing but has set up a legal defense fund. The move is allowed only for officeholders who have been charged or are under investigation for election or campaign violations.

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Monday, March 19, 2012 ---- 2:10 p.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Gov. Scott Walker is staying mum on whether he has met with the Milwaukee County district attorney about a secret investigation that has led to charges against five of his former close aides and associates.

Walker has previously said the district attorney's office wanted to meet with him, but it was a voluntary meeting and he had not been ordered to testify.

When asked Monday if he had the meeting yet, he said he would defer to District Attorney John Chisholm on how he would like them to release the information. Chisholm had no comment Monday.

Earlier this month, Walker said he's set up a legal defense fund to pay for two attorneys representing him in the investigation. He has not been charged with wrongdoing.

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Thursday, March 8, 2012 --- 11:25 a.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- A former aide to Scott Walker before he became governor waived her preliminary hearing Thursday on four felony charges relating to campaigning while at work for Milwaukee County.

Kelly Rindfleisch was Walker's deputy chief of staff when he was Milwaukee County executive. The 43-year-old Rindfleisch is accused of doing campaign work while on the job at the county executive's office, including fundraising for a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor.

Rindfleisch is one of five Walker associates facing charges in a grand jury investigation. Walker hasn't been charged with wrongdoing. WITI-TV (http://bit.ly/zH7Fxl ) says Rindfleisch is scheduled back in court March 20.

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Friday, February 24, 2012 --- 3:35 p.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- A former aide to Gov. Scott Walker when Walker was the Milwaukee County executive has pleaded not guilty to embezzlement charges.

Timothy D. Russell is alleged to have embezzled more than $21,000 in 2010 from a veterans-support organization account to which Walker had entrusted him.

Russell is also accused of siphoning lesser sums from campaign accounts of two Milwaukee County Board candidates, and prosecutors say he also helped set up a shadow Internet system that other Walker aides used to perform campaign work on county time.

Russell's lawyer asked Friday to move the trial to another county because of media attention, but the judge denied the request.

Russell is one of five of Walker's former close aides or associates charged in a secret investigation.

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Wednesday, February 22, 2012 --- 2:26 p.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- A preliminary hearing has been set for a woman who was a former close aide to Gov. Scott Walker when he was the Milwaukee County executive.

Forty-three-year-old Kelly Rindfleisch used to be Walker's deputy chief of staff before he became governor last year. She's charged with four felony counts of misconduct in office.

A judge set a $1,000 signature bond Wednesday and scheduled her preliminary hearing for March 8.

Prosecutors accuse Rindfleisch of spending county time working on the campaign of a Republican candidate who was favored by Walker's campaign committee.

A message left with her attorney seeking comment was not immediately returned.

Rindfleisch is one of five Walker associates facing charges in a grand-jury investigation. Walker hasn't been charged with wrongdoing but has agreed to meet with prosecutors.

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Thursday, February 16, 2012 --- 10:58 a.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- A new judge has been assigned to the case of Timothy D. Russell, a former aide to Gov. Scott Walker when Walker was the Milwaukee County executive.

The 48-year-old Russell is accused of stealing more than $21,000 from a nonprofit organization that Walker asked him to lead.

Russell's defense attorney requested a new judge in Milwaukee County court. That request was granted Thursday, and the case initially reassigned to Judge J.D. Watt. Watt reviewed the case for an hour and announced he was recusing himself.

So the case will now be heard by Judge David Hansher. An arraignment has been set for Feb. 24 at 1:30 p.m.

Russell's defense attorney, Mike Maistelman, declined to say why he requested a new judge, saying he doesn't want to reveal his defense strategy.

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Thursday, February 16, 2012 --- 6:30 a.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- A man who was a deputy chief of staff to Gov. Scott Walker when Walker was the Milwaukee County executive is set to be arraigned on theft charges.

An arraignment for Timothy D. Russell is scheduled for Thursday morning. He's charged with two charges of felony theft and one charge of misdemeanor theft.

The 48-year-old is accused of stealing more than $21,000 from a nonprofit organization that Walker asked him to lead. The charges came as part of an ongoing criminal investigation centered on people who served in county government during Walker's tenure as executive.

A message left with Russell's defense attorney, Mike Maistelman, was not immediately returned. He has previously said his client is innocent.

Another former Walker appointee is also charged with embezzling from the organization.

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Tuesday, February 14, 2012 --- 3:09 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus says he has not been contacted by investigators about the ongoing criminal probe into former close associates and aides of Gov. Scott Walker.

Reince Priebus has been RNC chair since 2011 but prior to that he was head of the Wisconsin Republican Party.

Five people have already been charged in the probe, including two people who were allegedly illegally campaigning while working for Walker when he was Milwaukee County executive. The criminal complaint details emails sent by Walker aide Darlene Wink to Priebus asking about organizing a fundraiser for Walker.

Priebus said during a conference call Tuesday that he was not aware of the email until he saw it in the complaint. Priebus says he's not concerned with the criminal probe.

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Tuesday, February 7, 2012 --- 3:16 p.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- A staffer who worked for Gov. Scott Walker when Walker was the Milwaukee County executive has pleaded guilty to two charges of posting pro-Walker messages online on county time.

Darlene Wink of Cudahy was charged with two misdemeanor counts of political solicitation by a public employee. The charges carry a maximum combined penalty of one year in prison and a $2,000 fine.

The 61-year-old Wink reached a plea agreement Tuesday, under which prosecutors agreed to recommend only a fine. She will be sentenced May 15.

Defense attorney Peter Wolff says Wink has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in related investigations involving people near Walker.

Wink resigned in May 2010 after admitting to posting anonymous pro-Walker comments on websites and blogs.

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Tuesday, February 7, 2012 --- 6:25 a.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- A staffer who worked for Gov. Scott Walker when Walker was the Milwaukee County executive is expected to plead guilty to charges of posting pro-Walker messages online on work time.

Darlene Wink of Cudahy is charged with two misdemeanor counts of political solicitation by a public employee. She's due to enter a plea Tuesday afternoon.

The charges carry a maximum combined penalty of one year in prison and a $2,000 fine.

Defense attorney Peter Wolff says his 61-year-old client has reached a tentative plea agreement with prosecutors. He says under the agreement she would plead guilty to both charges, and prosecutors would recommend only a fine. Wolff says negotiations might continue Tuesday morning.

Wink resigned in May 2010 after admitting to posting anonymous pro-Walker comments on websites and blogs.

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Monday, January 30, 2012 --- 4:10 p.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- A Milwaukee newspaper is reporting that a man charged with stealing money from a veterans group while he was an aide to now-Gov. Scott Walker was fired from a previous state job for misusing public money.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported (http://bit.ly/xCnQUI ) Monday that Tim Russell was fired from the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority after it was discovered in 1993 that he improperly billed hotel stays.

Russell was a former deputy chief of staff to Walker while Walker was the Milwaukee County executive. Russell has become part of an investigation into other Walker aides and associates.

Russell's termination letter says he filed for $1,123 in improper reimbursements.

Russell's lawyer declined to comment. Messages left with a number of current and former WHEDA officials were not immediately returned.

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Information from: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, http://www.jsonline.com

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.

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UPDATED January 27, 2012--4:45p.m.

Governor Walker is speaking out after two former Milwaukee County employees are charged as part of the John Doe investigation.

The governor says during his tenure as Milwaukee County Executive he had a clear and expressed policy against using county time or county resources for political purposes.

Both women facing charges are former Milwaukee County employees. And both are accused of working on political fund raising on county time.

One of them is Walker's former deputy chief of staff, Kelly Rindfleisch.
She faces four felony counts for misconduct in public office.

Also charged is Darlene Wink, facing two misdemeanor counts of political solicitation by a public employee.

When asked if he thought the investigation was coming after him---the governor said 'no.' "I think it's very clear when all this is done, no matter how much time it takes and again my campaign has been involved with cooperating with them for more than a year, but I have every confidence that when this is completed people will see that our integrity remains intact," said Walker.

Walker wouldn't say much else about the investigation--but said the campaign has been cooperating with investigators--and that those investigators have been very clear about what they can and cannot talk about.

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UPDATED: January 27, 2012 --- 1:40 p.m.

WAUWATOSA, Wis. (AP) -- Gov. Scott Walker said he's confident his integrity will remain intact after a secret investigation that has already resulted in charges against some former staffers while he was Milwaukee County executive.

Two women on that staff were charged Thursday with engaging in political fundraising while at work.

Two other former Walker associates were charged Jan. 5 with embezzling more than $60,000 from veterans and their families. Another man is charged with child enticement charges, evidence of which was allegedly discovered while investigating one of the others.

At an appearance at a Milwaukee-area business Friday, Walker said he doesn't feel investigators are targeting him. He says he's always made it clear to his staff that they were prohibited from political activities while on the job.

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.

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UPDATED January 26, 2012--6:15p.m.

Today the Milwaukee County DA filed Criminal complaints against two people as a result of the John Doe investigation: Kelly Rindfleisch and Darlene Wink.

Both are former Milwaukee County employees.

Here's the breakdown: Rindfleisch is facing four felony charges of Misconduct in public office--for allegedly working on fund raising efforts for former Republican Lieutenant Governor Candidate Brett Davis--while on county time. The criminal complaint also says her fund raising efforts were done via "a secret e-mail system available to and used by select 'insider' staffers for both official and unofficial business."

Also charged today is Darlene Wink. She's facing two misdemeanor counts of political solicitation by a public employee. She's accused of using county equipment--and being in a county facility--while working on fund raising for the then County Executive Scott Walker.

In May of 2010, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that Wink was posting pro-Walker posts to the newspaper during the county work day. She later resigned.

As that story broke, then County-Executive Scott Walker sent an email to Tim Russell. An excerpt: "We cannot afford another story like this one. No one can give them any reason to do another story. That means no laptops, no websites, no time away during the work day, etc."

And that email is listed as a possible reason that fund raising activity by Kelly Rindfleisch actually dropped during the work day.

The Walker campaign released the following statement on today's charges: "The Milwaukee County Executive's Office expressed policy was that county employees were not permitted to use county time or resources to conduct any political activity.

Scott Walker expected everyone to follow the law and made that clear publicly and privately."

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UPDATED January 26, 2012 --- 10:45 a.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Two ex-aides to Gov. Scott Walker while he was Milwaukee County executive face charges of doing political fundraising while working on county time.

Kelly Rindfleisch was charged Thursday with four felony counts of misconduct in office. She was deputy chief of staff for Walker before he became governor in 2011.

She's charged with spending significant time raising funds for Brett Davis, an unsuccessful GOP candidate for lieutenant governor in 2010.

Darlene Wink faces two misdemeanor counts of political solicitation by a public employee. She was Walker's constituent services coordinator.

They are the latest charges filed in connection with a secret probe by the Milwaukee County District Attorney. Three others with ties to Walker were charged earlier this month.

Neither Rindfleisch nor Wink immediately returned messages left by The Associated Press.

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Thursday, January 26, 2012 --- 9:55 a.m.

Press Release from the Office of the District Attorney: Milwaukee County

Today the Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office filed criminal complaints against two former Milwaukee County employees, alleging that while employed on the staff of then County Executive Scott Walker, and while working in a government building, they engaged in political fundraising.

Kelly M. Rindfleisch, the former Deputy Chief of Staff for the County Executive, is charged with four felony counts of Misconduct in Public Office. She is alleged to have spent significant time while in the County Executive's office working as a fundraiser for Lieutenant Governor candidate Brett Davis. In the course of the investigation, it was learned that a private email network was established and operated out of the County Executive's office and that the private network was used to communicate both political campaign and government work related information to select individuals.

Darlene Wink is charged with two misdemeanor counts of Political Solicitation by Public Employee for engaging in fundraising activity for County Executive Walker while in a county building and while using county equipment.

Both defendants are presumed innocent until found guilty.

We have been authorized by the presiding judge in the ongoing John Doe investigation to release the information contained in the criminal complaints for prosecution of these matters. Because the investigation is ongoing, we will be making no further comments at this time.

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UPDATED Friday, January 6, 2012 --- 2:45 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker hasn't been charged with any wrongdoing in an ongoing criminal investigation that's ensnared people close to him, and he wants to keep it that way.

Just a year into his first term, the polarizing Republican faces a potential recall election later this year.

Walker says he doesn't think voters will be swayed by charges announced this week against two appointees during his time as a county executive.

Walker's former deputy chief of staff is among those facing embezzlement charges for allegedly stealing money intended for veterans and their families.

Marquette University law school professor Charles Franklin says for now Walker does have some distance from those investigated. The question for voters likely will be where the probe stands closer to any recall election.

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Thursday, January 5, 2012 --- 4:20 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Gov. Scott Walker says he's "extremely disappointed" that his former longtime aide Tim Russell has been charged with felony embezzlement for allegedly stealing more than $21,000 from a group he ran that was supposed to help veterans and their families.

Russell worked for Walker off and on between 2002 and 2010 when Walker was Milwaukee County executive.

Felony embezzlement charges were filed Thursday against Russell and Kevin Kavanaugh related to stealing money that was intended to help veterans.

Walker's then-chief of staff had requested the investigation into Kavanaugh after he was concerned about how money was being handled for an annual veterans picnic at the Milwaukee County Zoo.

Walker says he had no idea that Russell was also allegedly stealing money.

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Thursday, January 5, 2012 --- 3:45 p.m.

Governor Walker Statement on Announcement by Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office:

Madison, Wis. – Governor Walker released the following statement today following an announcement from the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office:

“My chief of staff at Milwaukee County, Tom Nardelli, brought to my attention concerns about a local veterans organization and funds collected several years ago for an event honoring veterans. Mr. Nardelli, with my support, asked the Milwaukee County District Attorney to investigate those concerns. We appreciate learning that the District Attorney's office investigated those concerns.”

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UPDATED Thursday, January 5, 2012 --- 12:30 p.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- A former close aide to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker during his time as Milwaukee County executive is among three people who've been arrested and charged with felonies as part of an ongoing criminal investigation.

Former Milwaukee County housing director Tim Russell was charged Thursday with one misdemeanor and two felony theft charges for taking more than $10,000 from a business. He worked for Walker when he served as Milwaukee County executive.

Former Milwaukee County Veteran Service Commission member Kevin Kavanaugh was charged with five felonies. One is for theft from a business greater than $10,000 and the others are for fraudulent writings by a corporate officer. Walker appointed Kavanaugh to the commission.

Department of Public Instruction worker Brian Pierick was charged with two felony counts of child enticement.

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Thursday, January 5, 2012 --- 10:58 a.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Tim Russell, a former aide of Gov. Scott Walker when he was Milwaukee County executive, has been arrested as part of a secret probe.

Online court records show that Russell was charged Thursday with three theft from business charges, two felonies and one misdemeanor. The felony theft charge of more than $10,000 from a business is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine.

Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm scheduled a noon news conference in Milwaukee to talk about the charges.

Russell worked as a Walker campaign staffer and as his county housing director. He did not follow Walker to Madison after he won election as governor last year.

Russell's attorney Mike Maistelman did not immediately return an email seeking comment.

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.

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Posted Thursday, January 5, 2012 --- 9:55 a.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- The Milwaukee County district attorney says he will announce additional charges in a secret investigation that has focused on current and former aides of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

District Attorney John Chisholm did not reveal any other details in the press release announcing the 12 noon news conference Thursday in Milwaukee.

Last month a commercial real estate broker in Milwaukee was arrested for failing to cooperate with the investigation and released with no charges being filed.

The secret investigation, known as a John Doe, began in May 2010 and has served as a distraction for Walker as he faces a possible recall election next year.

Walker has said he has not been contacted by prosecutors and he's defended his integrity.

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.


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