Former Scott Walker aide found guilty of theft

MILWAUKEE — Kevin Kavanaugh, an aide to Scott Walker during his years as Milwaukee County Executive, has been found guilty of stealing money from a fund meant to help veterans between 2006 - 2009.

Walker’s former Chief of Staff Tom Nardelli was the first witness to testify in the case as the trial began Monday. He told the court he noticed things didn’t add up in the books for Operation Freedom, a fundraiser meant to raise money for war veterans back in 2006.

In total, Kavanaugh is accused of pocketing nearly $42,000 when he was the treasurer for the local Military Order of the Purple Heart between 2006 and 2009.

“The bottom line is, the defendant used the Military Order of the Purple Heart as his own personal piggy bank. Yes, he wrote checks for legitimate purposes. Yes, he wrote checks to veterans, but he repeatedly wrote checks to cash and put the money in his own pocket,” Assistant District Attorney Kurt Benkley said.

Kavanaugh’s lawyer says his client was a lousy bookkeeper who often gave needy veterans cash without making them go through the red tape.

“You’re going to hear a lot of those vets are homeless. They don’t have banking accounts. You’re going to hear from one vet who will tell you a lot of vets don’t even trust financial institutions. You’re going to hear that a lot of these vets, if they do have checking accounts, their checking accounts are overdrawn,” Chris Hartley, Kavanaugh’s lawyer said.

Kavanaugh will be back in court for a sentencing hearing on December 7, 2012.

Monitor FOX6 News and for updates on this developing story.