Former Walker aide Russell expected to accept plea deal

CREATED Nov 29, 2012

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MILWAUKEE - One of Gov. Scott Walker's former aides is set to enter a plea deal to settle an embezzlement case.

Tim Russell worked on and off for Walker between 2002 and 2010 during Walker's stint as Milwaukee County executive.

Prosecutors charged Russell in January with stealing at least $21,000 from Operation Freedom, a nonprofit group Walker asked him to lead, and stealing money from two county board candidates' campaign funds.

Russell allegedly spent the money on lavish vacations.

He was scheduled to appear at a plea hearing in Milwaukee on Thursday afternoon.  He faces up to 14 years in prison based on the three counts he faces, including two felonies.

The charges against Russell were part of a secret probe prosecutors launched into Walker's associates and campaign donors in May 2010, before he became governor.

Walker's camp contacted prosecutors about discrepancies in Operation Freedom's record.

Three former aides and a Walker campaign donor have been convicted so far.

The governor himself hasn't been charged with any wrongdoing.

He claims that the probe could be coming to a close, but the judge overseeing it says the investigation is still open, and he has received no indication from prosecutors to close it down.