Alderman accused of corrupt plot to force out sex offenders

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Milwaukee Alderman Jim Bohl is under criminal investigation for allegedly using building code violations as bargaining chips to force a landlord to evict a pair of sex offenders.

According to a search warrant affidavit filed in Milwaukee County Circuit Court, Bohl told the landlord he could make his code violations "magically" go away if he'd agree to evict the sex offenders.  The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) had placed the offenders in the home as part of the state's so-called "Chapter 980" program for the supervision of sexually violent persons.

The affidavit filed in court on Monday accuses Bohl, his aide, Todd Peterson, and building inspector Todd Vandre of coordinating the effort to connect code violations to the removal of the sex offenders.  The records indicate that just weeks after the sex offenders moved into the house on North 77th Street, Vandre issued a series of code violations against that home and several others owned by Jeff Stockinger.  Stockinger told investigators the violations would have cost up to $40,000 to repair.

On October 24th, the records state, Bohl met with Stockinger and his property manager, Jim Miller.  During that meeting, Bohl allegedly told Miller that he would make the violations "go away" if Miller terminated the lease with DHS.  By the end of the meeting, Miller allegedly agreed to end the lease, with Bohl promising to take care of the code issues.

The search warrant seeks phone and email records for Bohl, Peterson and Vandre, that investigators say could be evidence of the crime of Misconduct in Public Office and Threats to Injure or Accuse of a Crime.

Alderman Bohl did not return a phone call seeking comment.  His aide, Todd Peterson, answered an office phone, but declined comment and hung up.  Mayor Barrett's staff referred media calls to the city's Department of Neighborhood Services, which conducts building inspections.  A DNS spokesman issued a brief statement promising to cooperate with the investigation, but otherwise declining comment.

Milwaukee Common Council President Willie Hines issued a statement calling the allegations against his colleague "serious," but also declaring that he is "presumed innocent" and warning others about "jumping to conclusions."