MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee County Supervisor Johnny Thomas pleaded not guilty Monday morning to charges he accepted a $500 bribe from what he thought was a Chicago firm seeking a contract — as a financial adviser for the county. Thomas was nabbed however, because it was part of a sting operation.
In testimony on Monday, another county official wondered why it was taking Thomas more than six months to schedule a contract for approval. Then, with the help of the Milwaukee County District Attorney's office, that official set up a sting -- and Thomas allegedly bit.
The prosecution played video and audio recordings of unofficial meetings between Thomas and Patrick Farley, Milwaukee County's director of administrative services.
Farley, under the direction of the Milwaukee County District Attorney's office, took the hidden recordings when the two talked by phone, and met in December. That's when Farley testified that Thomas took a $500 bribe as a donation to his campaign fund for city comptroller. In exchange, Farley says Thomas agreed to schedule a financial advising contract for approval in his committee.
Farley said he gave the bribe to Thomas and at a later date, had another conversation questioning that the campaign contribution was in cash. He referenced former Milwaukee Alderman Michael McGee, who is now serving time for a 2008 bribery and extortion conviction.
Thomas has already been stripped of his county board committee assignments. That includes his chairmanship over the Finance and Audit Committee.
Thomas's next court date is March 16th. If convicted of accepting a bribe, he faces up to six years in prison and $10,000 in fines. The misconduct in office charge carries a maximum three-and-a-half years in prison and $10,000 fine.