A former aide to Gov. Scott Walker received a new judge Thursday, postponing a scheduled arraignment; the latest turn of events in an investigation into Walker’s former employees.
Tim Russell, a former Milwaukee County employee under Walker’s tenure as Milwaukee County Executive, who faces charges of embezzlement, has requested and received a new judge in Milwaukee County Court. The new arraignment date set by the court is Feb. 24.
His attorney, Mike Maistelman, said he would not comment on why he requested a new judge, as he does not want to reveal his defense strategy.
According to a criminal complaint, Russell faces three separate felony charges of embezzlement. The complaint alleges Russell embezzled $19,000 from an event to honor military veterans at Milwaukee County Zoo. He also allegedly embezzled another $3,000 from political campaigns.
Mike Browne, spokesperson for One Wisconsin Now, a liberal advocacy group, said Russell may be using the measure to delay his court case.
“Russell may be delaying, and his delay does little to address the broadening scandal of the Walker administration,” Browne said.
He said Russell also allegedly worked with former Walker Deputy Chief of Staff Kelly Rindfleisch and Walker aide Darlene Wink to build a shadow computer network, which was off the Milwaukee County computer network, to raise money for Walker’s campaigns while they were in office.
Wink pled guilty Feb. 7 to two charges of soliciting political funds while working in a county office. Rindfleisch faces four charges of misconduct in office.
Democratic Party of Wisconsin spokesperson Graeme Zielinksi said Russell has been a “bedfellow” with Walker since the 1980s, and that he committed the crimes to help Walker in his campaign office. He accused Russell of using delay tactics to help Walker in his recall election.
“The last thing Walker wants is any publicity of this investigation before the recall election,” Zielinski said. “Walker is central to these crimes and may have committed crimes himself.”
The John Doe probe into Walker’s previous administration has resulted in charges being brought against five former Walker employees, including Russell, Wink and Rindfleisch.
Maistelman did not return comment.
– The Associated Press contributed to this story.