Tim Russell, a former aide to Gov. Scott Walker when Walker was the Milwaukee County executive, was sentenced to two years in prison and five years' supervision Tuesday in Milwaukee County Circuit Court for stealing money from a veterans group.
Judge David Hansher scolded Russell, 49, saying he did not believe the former Walker deputy chief of staff was contrite. The sentence exceeded that requested by Assistant District Attorney Bruce Landgraf, who had asked for two years in prison and two years of extended supervision.
"There is absolutely no true regret, remorse or repentance," Hansher said. "I find that you don't even have any shame."
Russell, in a shaking voice, apologized to his friends and family and to the Heritage Guard Preservation Society, from which he acknowledged stealing just more than $27,000. He said he will spend the rest of his life making up for what he did.
Russell is among six former Walker aides and associates implicated in the probe launched in May 2010 by the Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office. Walker has insisted he is not a target. Landgraf declined comment after Tuesday's sentencing.
Five of the six have been convicted. Brian Pierick, Russell's partner, is scheduled to go on trial Jan. 29 on charges of child enticement based on evidence uncovered during the investigation.
Hansher also took offense at Russell's statements in a presentence report that the ongoing secret John Doe investigation was politically motivated. Hansher called Reserve Judge Neal Nettesheim, who is overseeing the investigation, one of the most well-respected jurists in the state.
Russell's attorney, Parker Mathers, had asked for three years' probation. Mathers also declined comment after the hearing.
In a sentencing memo, Landgraf said Russell used his pull with Walker to get access to funds intended to benefit military veterans and their families. He then used the money for two tropical vacations and a trip to help organize the presidential campaign of Republican Herman Cain, the prosecutor said.
Walker passed control of the Heritage Guard Preservation Society to Russell in October 2009. Russell almost immediately began looting the fund, Landgraf wrote, eventually stealing 50 cents of every dollar from the charity. The group ran Operation Freedom, an annual picnic at the Milwaukee County Zoo for veterans and their families previously organized by Walker's office.
The judge quizzed Russell about why Walker transferred responsibility for Operation Freedom from a local American Legion post to Russell's group — especially since control had been shifted to the post after another Walker associate, Kevin Kavanaugh, had looted funds from the event. Kavanaugh was sentenced to two years in prison for stealing $51,000 from that group.
Russell replied that Walker wanted to ensure that he could run the event even after leaving office.
Russell pleaded guilty to taking the veterans' funds in exchange for Landgraf dropping two other charges involving theft of funds from two Milwaukee County Board candidates' campaigns. Hansher said he would set restitution at a future hearing.