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John Mercure: Mercurey Rising

My Johnny Thomas Interview

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Johnny Thomas is the former Milwaukee County Supervisor who was acquitted last month of bribery and misconduct in office charges.  Johnny has been quiet on the case... until now.  I sat down with Thomas for an extensive one on one interview this afternoon.

First, here are the story basics.  Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele's top aide, Patrick Farley, suspected that Johnny Thomas was rigging a bid for some county work, or angling for bribes on the work.  Farley was able to convince Milwaukee County Supervisors that he should wear a wire and try to get Thomas to accept a bribe.

Farley and Thomas met at a coffee shop.  Thomas claims he believed the meeting was to discuss Thomas' run for the Milwaukee City Comptroller post, which pays $140,000 a year. A the end of the meeting Farley gave Thomas an envelope containing $500.  Thomas says he took the envelope, assuming it contained contributions for his campaign.  When he later realized that it contained cash, he returned to Farley's office and asked what was going on.  Farley allegedly told him that it was fine and no big deal.  Thomas says there was never any mention of the money being used to buy Thomas' action on any County matter.

Thomas was later arrested and charged with bribery and misconduct in office.

It took a jury less than 90 minutes to decide that Thomas was not guilty of the charges.

This afternoon Thomas told me that he is devastated.  "They say that if you have done nothing wrong, you have nothing to worry about.  That was not true in my case.  I have lost my job and my reputation," Thomas told me.

As I sat talking with Johnny Thomas, I didn't sense anger.  I didn't sense bitterness.  I sensed that he is sad.  He is relieved that he was found not guilty, but now he is wondering how he will ever be able to support his family. "I don't have a job and I have a young family.  I'm trying to work this all out," Thomas told me.

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