UPDATE: Judge tells 27 News John Doe probe continue - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

UPDATE: Judge tells 27 News John Doe probe continues, prosecutor will signal end


MADISON (WKOW) -- The judge presiding over a largely secret, Milwaukee County investigation says the probe continues, despite Governor Walker's hope for an end soon.

"The John Doe remains open," Judge Neal Nettesheim tells 27 News.

The John Doe investigation has spanned two years, and has led to criminal convictions for two Walker aides, an appointee, and a campaign donor. Former Walker aide Tim Russell is scheduled to appear in court and enter a plea Thursday, in an expected settlement of his theft case.

Walker Tuesday told a dairy business group he wished for an end to the probe.

"It's going on two years," Walker said. "Hopefully after this week it will be completed."

Nettesheim tells 27 News the John Doe investigation needs to run its course.

"Here, they're are of course, as has been made public, ongoing prosecutions resulting from the Doe, and that in part attributes to the need for the Doe to remain open," Nettesheim tells 27 News.

In addition to Russell's case, another former Walker aide, Darlene Wink still faces sentencing for carrying out illegal political activity. Russell's partner, Brian Pierick, also faces a sex crime charge as the result of the investigation.

Nettesheim tells 27 News the remaining, open criminal cases do not preclude an end to the probe, but are a factor.

Nettesheim served on both the circuit court and appellate court bench for a total of more than three decades, retired, and is in reserve status. Nettesheim tells 27 News the length of this John Doe probe makes it the longest in his experience, but says he has not tracked similar investigations under other judges. A John Doe probe allows prosecutors to subpoena witnesses, to compel the testimony of reluctant witnesses, and to offer immunity from prosecution, all done in secret under the supervision of a presiding judge, in the search for probable cause to charge crimes.  

"The decision to terminate a John Doe , or to ask the presiding judge to terminate the John Doe, lies with the prosecutor," Nettesheim tells 27 News.

Assistant Milwaukee County District Attorney Bruce Landgraf, who is this John Doe investigation's lead prosecutor, tells 27 News the secrecy provisions of this process prevent him from commenting on whether he's considering and end to the probe.

In published reports, attorneys for some of those convicted in the probe said they believed prosecutors may have exhausted prosecutorial targets, and the John Doe may end soon.

Walker clarified his remarks on the John Doe after a speech Wednesday.

"I didn't say I had any knowledge of it," Walker says.

"I said, I think, like most people, I'd be happy, and hope it might be done this week. But I have no knowledge of it," Walker says.

Walker has maintained he is not a target of the secret probe.


MADISON (WKOW) -- The judge overseeing the investigation into former aides of Governor Scott Walker says the probe is still 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 January 10 sentencing hearing.


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