Long-time Walker aide charged with felony theft - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Long-time Walker aide charged with felony theft

Tim Russell Tim Russell
Kevin Kavanaugh Kevin Kavanaugh
Brian Pierick Brian Pierick

MILWAUKEE (WKOW) -- 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 investigation.

Also criminally charged Thursday was Russell's Sun Prairie housemate, Brian Pierick, who is alleged to have enticed a Waukesha County teenage boy in online 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.

Click here to read the criminal complaints.


MILWAUKEE (WKOW) -- A former 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 secret probe 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 was the 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. Kavanaugh was appointed to the commission by Walker.

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


MADISON (WKOW) -- Court records indicate a former campaign and county aide to Gov. Scott Walker was arrested Thursday as part of the ongoing John Doe investigation.

According to Wisconsin Circuit Court Access records, Tim Russell has been charged with three counts of theft in a business setting.

An arrest warrant for Russell was issued on Tuesday. Russell was taken into custody on Thursday.

Russell served as the Milwaukee County housing director when Walker was county executive.

In August 2010, Russell has his work computer seized. The 48-year-old did not get a job in the Walker administration in Madison.

Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm will make an announcement at noon Thursday  about additional charges in the secret probe. The Milwaukee County District Attorney's office has been overseeing the John Doe investigation for more than 1 1/2 years.

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