The secret "John Doe" criminal investigation of Governor Scott Walker's former staff and associates during the time he served as Milwaukee County Executive has resulted in 15 felony indictments so far.
The investigation has been underway since May 2010. In May 2012, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel broke the story that Milwaukee County prosecutors were forced to move from a regular investigation to a secret "John Doe" criminal investigation after being stonewalled by the County Executive's office. Court records released in the trial of one of the defendants showed that prosecutors said Walker's office had been "unwilling or unable" to turn over requested records. This new information contradicts Walker's repeated claims that he has been "fully cooperating" with the investigation since the start.
In Wisconsin, a "John Doe" investigation is a closed-door criminal proceeding that operates much like a Grand Jury in other states. Rather than appearing before a jury, a John Doe investigation takes place before a judge. Witnesses with evidence relevant to the investigation can be subpoenaed and compelled to testify under oath about potential crimes. Once defendants are charged with wrongdoing, the legal process moves into open court. This John Doe is being prosecuted by the Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm before Judge Neal Nettesheim of Waukesha. The investigation appears to be on-going and new evidence emerged earlier in the year that suggests that there is also a parallel federal investigation underway.
This fall, there will be a number of hearings and trials related to the John Doe. See the schedule below.
- KEVIN KAVANAUGH: The jury trial begins today, October 8, 2012, in Milwaukee County in the case of Kevin Kavanaugh. Kavanaugh was the county veterans official appointed by Walker, who was charged (PDF) with five felonies in connection with embezzlement of funds from a veterans' charity.
- KELLY RINDFLEISCH: Kelly Rindfleisch, former Walker deputy chief of staff, was charged (PDF) with four felonies relating to political fundraising while on the county payroll. Her trial begins next Monday, October 15, 2012, in Milwaukee County. Scott Walker appears on the possible witness list related to her trial.
- DARLENE WINK: Darlene Wink, former Walker constituent services aide, pleaded guilty (PDF) to two misdemeanor counts of political solicitation by a public employee in a plea agreement entered with prosecutors. Her sentencing hearing was delayed twice due to the delays in Russell's trial. She is now scheduled to be sentenced on November 21, 2012.
- TIM RUSSELL: Timothy Russell was a top aid to Walker holding over eight positions including deputy chief of staff. Russell was charged (PDF) with two felony and one misdemeanor counts of embezzlement of funds from a veterans' charity. Russell's trial, which has already been delayed due to issues with his legal representation, is scheduled to begin on December 3, 2012, in Milwaukee County. Scott Walker appears on the possible witness list related to his trial.
- BRIAN PIERICK: Finally, Brian Pierick, Russell's roommate and partner, was charged (PDF) with child enticement and exposing himself to a 17-year-old boy, evidence of which was discovered through the "John Doe" investigation. His trial begins on January 29, 2013, in Waukesha County.
These court hearing dates, times, and locations were obtained through the Wisconsin Circuit Court Access online system and are subject to change. Learn more about this complex investigation here. Follow the conversation on Twitter #johndoe and #walkergate.