Dennis Troha Pleads Guilty
Dennis Troha (courtesy Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Millionaire Kenosha businessman Dennis Troha entered into a plea agreement Friday in which he pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors related to campaign contributions he gave to President Bush and the Democratic Party.
Troha pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiring to violate campaign finance laws and agreed to cooperate in an ongoing investigation, U.S. Attorney Steven Biskupic and FBI Special Agent Richard Ruminski announced.
Under the agreement, Troha faces up to two years in prison and a $200,000 fine. No date had been set for when Troha will officially enter his guilty plea and Biskupic's statement did not say what punishment the government would recommend.
"The plea agreement is an appropriate middle ground resolution," Biskupic said in a statement.
He noted that Troha admitted his guilt, has agreed to work with the FBI, and that the charges had ramifications on his business interests, including the Kenosha casino.
Troha had been working with the Menominee tribe as the lead developer for a new casino in Kenosha, but he backed out of the deal shortly before the indictments were released in March. He has since sold his share of the deal to the Connecticut-based Mohegan Tribe.
Troha issued a statement Friday acknowledging his wrongdoing.
"My lawyers and the U.S. Attorney have undertaken substantial discussions and deliberations to reach this outcome," Troha said. "The new revised charges accurately state that I violated certain laws which are notably less egregious than the original indictment."
A federal grand jury indicted Troha in March for allegedly committing fraud and lying to the FBI about donations to Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle. The indictment alleges Troha funneled more than $100,000 through family members to Doyle's campaign and others, skirting state laws that cap donations at $10,000 per election.
Under the original charges, Troha faced up to 25 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000.
Troha admitted in the plea deal that between 2002 and 2007 he conspired to violate state and federal campaign contribution laws for the benefit of Doyle's campaign. During that same period, Troha admitted to violating state and federal laws to benefit Bush.
The charges alleged that Troha exceeded contribution limits by having family members make donations in their names but using Troha's money. As part of the plea deal, the government agreed to dismiss mail fraud and false statement charges pending against Troha.
State Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen and Dane County District Attorney Brian Blanchard agreed not to pursue state charges related to the activities that led to the federal charges.
Biskupic said last week that the deal was prompted by a federal appeals court decision overturning the conviction of state worker Georgia Thompson. She had been convicted of fraud for steering a travel contract to a company whose officers donated to Doyle's re-election campaign.
The U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago vacated Thompson's conviction in April, saying the evidence was "beyond thin," and ordered her immediate release from an Illinois prison.
Troha said in his statement that many things written about him since the charges were filed have been "wrong and unfair," but he did not say what those were.
"My wife and I have always been most interested in working on causes that are important to us," he said. "This includes support of our church and of efforts to assist people who are economically and socially disadvantaged. We look forward to refocusing our energies on these activities."
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
(Photo: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)