MILWAUKEE -- Kelly Rindfleisch, one of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's former top aides, agreed to a plea deal Thursday, October 11th after a John Doe investigation led to charges against her. But she almost didn't live up to her end of the bargain.
Rindfleisch faced four felony misconduct in office counts for doing campaign work on County time. The John Doe investigation found evidence she raised campaign funds and communicated with members of Walker's campaign for governor while serving as Walker's deputy chief of staff while he was Milwaukee's County Executive. Prosecutors found emails to support their claims -- many of which came from a secret computer system in Rindfleisch's office.
In court for a plea hearing Thursday, instead of the expected guilty plea, Rindfleisch pleaded "no contest" to one felony misconduct in office charge. Judge David Hanscher said he would not accept this plea.
Rindfleisch then pleaded guilty. The charge carries a maximum three-and-a-half years of confinement and $10,000 in fines. That's significantly less than the 14 years in prison and $40,000 in fines Rindfleisch could have faced.
"I think that the settlement agreement that we entered into today is consistent with the settlements that we`ve entered in cases that involve public officials over the last 10 years, whether they`re Republicans or Democrats," Milwaukee County Assistant District Attorney Bruce Landgraf said.
Landgraf also agreed to recommend Rindfleisch be sentenced to jail and probation rather than prison -- and promised not to seek restitution. The plea agreement also does not require Rindfleisch to provide information for other cases.
Gov. Walker had been subpoenaed to testify for the defense during Rindfleisch's trial, which was scheduled to begin on Monday, October 15th -- but after the plea deal, that will no longer be necessary.
Rindfleisch is expected to be sentenced on November 19th.
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