Felony charges have been filed against three people, based on a John Doe investigation tied to then-Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker’s office. Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm says 61-year-old Kevin Kavanaugh and 48-year-old Tim Russell have been arrested on multiple charges of fraud and theft from a business, while 48-year-old Brian Pierick faces two felony counts of child enticement.
Russell was an aid to Governor Scott Walker when he served as Milwaukee County Executive. He’s accused of using his control over funds for “Operation Freedom,” an event at the Milwaukee County Zoo honoring veterans, to divert nearly $20,000 to his personal accounts to help pay for tropical vacations and a political trip to Georgia. Russell is also accused of taking money from the campaigns of two county board candidates.
Kavanaugh is accused of his using his role as finance officer for the Military Order of the Purple Heart, which ran the Operation Freedom event, to embezzle more than $42,000. According to the criminal complaint, Kavanaugh skimmed money when he cashed checks made out to the organization, including funds set up to help the families of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The charges against Pierick, who is described as Russell’s domestic partner, stem from evidence uncovered in the course of the John Doe investigation. Investigators seized several computers and cell phones from the home the two shared, uncovering chat logs with a minor that showed ongoing sexual communications. Those included an attempt to set up a meeting.
District Attorney Chisholm says the investigation was started after concerns about the missing funds were raised by then-County Executive Scott Walker’s staff. Chisholm says partisan politics played no part in the investigation.
The DA declined further comment on the arrests, only saying the investigation remains open at this time.
AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (1:07)