Rebecca M. Coffee
MASTANTUONO LAW CLIENT ACQUITTED IN HIGH-PROFILE MILWAUKEE COUNTY BRIBERY CASE
Attorneys Craig Mastantuono and Rebecca Coffee successfully defended our client, a former Milwaukee County Supervisor charged with bribery and misconduct in office, securing an acquittal following a week-long jury trial. The case centered around a sting operation that was orchestrated by another County official who wore a wire and secretly recorded conversations while he proposed an illegal campaign contribution and erroneously advised our client. After the criminal complaint was filed against him, our client was presumed guilty by just about everyone who expressed an opinion about the case, including the media. Our client maintained his innocence throughout the six-month process that it took to resolve the case, and he was ultimately exonerated. The jury deliberated for less than an hour, a remarkably short time for a week-long trial that involved many witnesses and recorded conversations. Jurors commented after the trial that they felt our client was improperly set up, and that the case should never have been prosecuted and was a waste of tax-payer dollars.
Interestingly, this case differs from most in that it is an example of the harm that a prosecutor can cause by misstating facts in a criminal complaint, a public document that is relied upon as being truthful by the media and the public in general. In this case, the complaint inaccurately described key pieces of evidence, including the accusation that our client “stashed” money received from the other County official in his bedroom. The defense investigation and the evidence introduced at trial completely contradicted this description, and was accepted by the jury. Unfortunately, the public image of our client “stashing” or hiding money did great damage to his reputation, unjustly so, since this was not true.
Since the verdict, some media sources have picked up on the misstatement in the criminal complaint in this case. (See, Charlie Sykes and Shepherd Express). For a person subject to criminal charges, there is essentially no recourse to such a misstatement, except to wait for their day in court, when hopefully the truth will come to light. In our case, our client had to wait six months to correct the narrative that had been written by the prosecutor. If this seems unfair, it is.