Former University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Chancellor Richard Wells and Vice Chancellor Thomas Sonnleitner pleaded not guilty in Winnebago County Court Monday morning to all counts of misconduct in office.
The two are charged with five criminal counts alleging they improperly managed university funds for five development projects related to the university.
The projects, including the university’s Oshkosh Sports Complex and Alumni Welcome and Conference Center, were funded by the private UWO Foundation. But the case alleges the defendants made promises to banks, that loan payments not covered by the foundation would be covered by the university.
The state’s case alleges the defendants overstepped their authority, violating state law. The UWO Foundation filed for bankruptcy in 2017 leaving state taxpayers on the hook for more than $11 million in project loans. The criminal case, filed by the state, follows two civil cases.
The court commissioner set a December 10 date for a status hearing in the case. That gives the defense six months to review tens of thousands of pages of documentation that is part of the state’s case.