Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Another Kenosha businessman falls

Another prominent Kenosha businessman is indicted.

A onetime top business associate of Dennis Troha's was charged today with aiding in a conspiracy to make more than $250,000 in illegal campaign contributions to federal and state candidates.

John W. Erickson, 57, of Kenosha, was charged with conspiracy and knowingly making prohibited corporate campaign contributions, U.S. Attorney Steven Biskupic announced this morning.

Erickson, the longtime assistant to the president at Troha's former company, ATC Leasing Co., allegedly engaged in a conspiracy to evade federal and state campaign contribution limits.

The federal charges state Erickson facilitated reimbursements for campaign contributions made by himself and others by cashing checks payable to cash, falsifying corporate expenses and diverting corporate income to a cash fund. The contributions, made between January 2002 and earlier this year, involved the campaigns of more than 20 candidates and totaled more than $200,000.

This included more than $18,000 in contributions to President Bush and more than $100,000 each to candidates for Congress and Wisconsin governor. In one specific incident noted in the charges, Erickson deposited a $1,000 check into his personal account before he wrote a $1,000 check to a third party to reimburse a $1,000 contribution to U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis.

Troha, a longtime figure in the specialized trucking industry, stepped down as the local developer of the Menominee Nation's Kenosha casino in February, shortly before a federal grand jury indicted him for fraud and lying to the FBI in relation to allegedly illegal campaign contributions.

That indictment alleged Troha funneled more than $100,000 to several of his family members in order for them to make campaign contributions to Gov. Jim Doyle and other politicians. Troha, who denied these allegations, later pleaded guilty to two lesser charges regarding contributions made to President Bush and the federal account of the Democratic Party. Troha will likely be sentenced early next year.

If convicted, Erickson could face up to two years in jail and a fine of $200,000, according to a statement Biskupic released this morning.

Troha, as part of his plea deal, agreed to cooperate with investigations related to the charges against him. The FBI is continuing the investigation that led to Erickson's charges, Biskupic's statement said.

Let me predict even more Kenosha businessmen will fall.

After all, John Erickson had to have worked with others in order to get them to donate to Doyle, Ryan or Bush- and then he paid them.

This time, it is a little hard to slam on Doyle. My guess is that he had not idea. None of them did.

However, any and all illegal contributions must be donated to charity.

Doyle refused to give back any of the Troha money because only Bush and the Democratic party charges stuck to Troha.

Not this time.

So how tainted is the Kenosha casino project now?

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