January 22, 2008

The other players in the Troha case.

We know a great deal about the Dennis Troha case. We know about Troha and John Erickson trying to buy influence and skirting campaign finance laws to do so. We know Troha will be sentenced in March.

But what do we know about other people involved in the same activity in the Kenosha area? Not much, the media has not done a very good job of looking at the public record and asking questions.

In Dan Bice's column last week he said the following in reference to the Dennis Troha case,

"When a federal prosecutor says a case is ongoing, it can mean any number of things. The case could be all but dead. Or a massive indictment could be handed down tomorrow. It's anybody's guess." But Matthew Jacobs, an assistant U.S. attorney, is specific about what is happening in the federal probe of Kenosha businessman Dennis Troha. In March, Troha will be sentenced on misdemeanor charges of funneling campaign cash through his family to the state Democratic Party and President Bush's campaign. "There's the possibility of another individual being indicted," Jacobs said Wednesday.

The Troha matter is far from over - you might be amazed at the number of people who ponyed up huge money with connections to Dennis Troha in Kenosha.

Of course we already know that John Erickson entered a plea deal and admitted to a conspiracy to funnel illegal campaign donations to persons who supported the Kenosha casino project.

Dennis Troha's plea was designed to keep other members of his family out of trouble. The thought that he is up on misdemeanor charges is outrageous.

According to the prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Matt Jacobs, “There is no criminal allegation on the part of politicians in here.”

So the question remains, who had significant ties to Erickson and Troha that also wanted the Kenosha Casino project bad enough to give large sums of money to attempt to sway political policy?

Campaign donations are of course public record, and they tell an interesting tale of who gave what to whom. What those records do not tell you is why those individuals gave what they did and what their motivations were.

The following is a reporting of some individuals with ties to Troha and Erickson in Kenosha who gave very large amounts of money in roughly the same time frame and in larger amounts than had previously been given. Of course this information does not prove anything but if I were Assistant U.S. Attorney Matt Jacobs, I'd certainly have a number of questions as to the motivations of these individuals who suddenly opened their wallets so wide.

All of these examples have three things in common.

Each of these individuals’ campaign contributions increased heavily during the time period the FBI is investigating (2002 – 2007).

Some of these individuals had not given any contributions to political candidates prior to the time period in question. However, during that time period they contributed several thousands of dollars.

Nearly every time one of these individuals contributed to a political candidate, either Dennis Troha, a Troha family member, John Erickson, or another potential co-conspirator also contributed, on that same day, to the same candidate.

Frank Pacetti, Executive Vice President, JHT Holdings, Inc., City of Kenosha Alderman . During the casino proposal debates in Kenosha in 2004, a possible conflict of interest with Pacetti and Alderman Michael J. Pitts was investigated by the state Department of Justice because of their status as employees at companies with close ties to Dennis Troha.

Contributions from 2002-2006: $2,250.00 Contributions prior to 2002: $0.00
Dates of Significance:

5/12/2002: Pacetti, along with Cletus Willems, Michael Pitts and members of Dennis Troha’s family all contribute to the campaign of Congressman Paul Ryan.
9/11/2002: Five days after Troha family members donate $30,000 to the campaign of Governor Doyle, Pacetti also makes a contribution to the campaign.
10/9/2003: Pacetti, John Erickson, Cletus Willems, Pitts and Troha family members all contribute to the campaign of Governor Jim Doyle.
3/8/2004: Pacetti contributes $500 to the ADCC. John Erickson, Cletus Willems, and members of the Pitts and Troha families also make contributions to the ADCC the same day.
8/23/2006: Pacetti contributes to the campaign of Congressman Jim Oberstar. Dennis Troha and his family members also gave that same day, along with other potential members of the co-conspiracy, giving nearly $20,000.

Michael A Pitts, Michael J Pitts, John Pitts. These are all Troha cousins; Michael J Pitts is a current Kenosha Alderman not seeking re-election.

Contributions from 2002 – 2007: $88,650 (by entire family)

Dates of Significance:

3/27/2002: Michael Pitts contributes $1,000 to the campaign of Governor Jim Doyle. Achille Infusino and members of Dennis Troha’s family also contribute to the Governor’s campaign the same day.
5/13/2002: Michael Pitts contributes to Congressman Paul Ryan’s campaign. John Erickson, Cletus Willems, Frank Pacetti, and several members of Dennis Troha’s family also contribute to Ryan’s campaign that day. Contributions totaled $5,000.
10/24/2002: Linnea Pitts contributes $10,000 to the campaign of Jim Doyle. Michael and Theresa Riggs, Cletus Willems and several members of Dennis Troha’s family also contribute that same day. Almost $60,000 is contributed to the Doyle Campaign.
10/31/2002: Michael Pitts, John Erickson, and Cletus Willems all contribute to the campaign of Peg Lautenschlager.
4/5/2003: Pitts, John Erickson and several members of Dennis Troha’s family all contribute to State Senator Jeff Plale’s campaign.
5/16/2003: Michael Pitts and Dennis Troha each contribute to the Wisconsin Leadership PAC.
6/3/2003: Several members of the Pitts family, along with members of Dennis Troha’s family, contribute $13,000 to the campaign of Congressman Paul Ryan.
6/26/2003: Michael Pitts and members of Dennis Troha’s family contribute to the campaign of Al Foeckler, a Democrat running against State Representative Mark Honadel in southern Milwaukee County.
10/9/2003: Michael Pitts and his family members, along with John Erickson, Frank Pacetti, Cletus Willems, Achille Infusino and members of Dennis Troha’s family contribute to the campaign of Governor Jim Doyle.
1/13/2004: Michael Pitts and Dennis Troha each contribute to the campaign of Anne Northup for Congress.
3/8/2004: Michael Pitts and his family members contribute to the ADCC. John Erickson, Cletus Willems, Frank Pacetti and members of Dennis Troha’s family also contribute to the ADCC the same day.
6/1/2004: Michael Pitts, his family and John Erickson all contribute to the campaign of Assembly Minority Leader James Krueser.
6/22/2004: John Erickson and Pitts family members all contribute to Governor Jim Doyle.
10/25/2004: Pitts and Troha family members all contribute to the campaign of State Senator Robert Wirch.
1/28/2005: Pitts and Troha family members contribute to the campaign of Governor Jim Doyle.
3/21/2005: Michael Pitts, Theresa Riggs and Troha family members all contribute to the ADCC. 4/26/2005: Michael Pitts, Achille Infusino and Troha family members all contribute to the campaign of Congressman Paul Ryan.
6/30/2005: Several members of the families of Michael Pitts and Dennis Troha contribute to Governor Jim Doyle’s campaign. In total, they contribute nearly $65,000.
11/30/2005: Michael Pitts, Cletus Willems and several Troha family members contribute $15,000 to the campaign of Congressman Paul Ryan.
2/3/2006: Pitts and Infusino family members contribute to the Doyle campaign the same day as several people with ties to the Mohegan Indian Tribe make contributions.
8/23/2006: Michael Pitts contributes to Congressman Jim Oberstar along with several members of Dennis Troha’s family. They contributed nearly $20,000.
10/19/2006: Pitts and Troha family members contribute to the campaign of Governor Jim Doyle. They contributed nearly $25,000.

Cletus Willems, Executive Vice President & General Counsel of JHT Holdings, Inc. Besides being the Executive Vice President and General Counsel of Dennis Troha’s former company, Willems is the person who signed, on behalf of the company, the secret deal to pay former JHT owner Dennis Troha on the side through 2010 if Congress passed legislation that benefited the firm by easing federal truck-hauling regulations. (“Father of Ryan aide signed Troha fee deal” Dan Bice. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, March 24, 2007.)

Total contributions from 2002 – 2007: $9,850.00 Contributions prior to 2002 (1993 – 2002): $3,050.00

Dates of Significance:
5/13/2002: Willems contributed $250.00 to the campaign of Ryan for Congress, along with Frank Pacetti, Michael Pitts and several members of Dennis Troha’s family.
10/24/2002: Willems contributed $5,000 to the campaign of Jim Doyle, along with members of the Troha families and others potentially involved with the conspiracy. In all, they gave $59,000 to the Doyle campaign that day.
10/31/2002: Willems, John Erickson and Michael Pitts all contributed to the campaign of Peg Lautenschlager.
10/9/2003: Willems, members of the Troha family and others potentially involved in the conspiracy contributed to the campaign of Governor Jim Doyle.
3/8/2004: Cletus Willems, John Erickson, Troha family members and other all contributed a total of $4,500 to the ADCC.

Michael Riggs, President & CEO, JHT Holdings

Contributions from 2002 – 2007: $12,750.00 (*$27,750 including donations made by wife) Contributions prior to 2002: $0.00

Dates of Significance:
10/24/2002: Michael Riggs and his wife Theresa each gave $7,500 to the campaign of Governor Jim Doyle. Other employees and former employees of ATC companies also contributed that day, along with several members of Dennis Troha’s family. In all, the contributions totaled $59,000 to the Doyle Campaign.
1/25/2008: Riggs and his wife again contributed $2,500 to Governor Doyle’s campaign. Other contributors to the campaign on or around that time include; John Erickson, Troha family members and others with close ties to Dennis Troha. Contributions totaled more than $37,000.
3/21/2005: Theresa Riggs contributed $1,000 to the ADCC. Several members of Dennis Troha’s family and Michael Pitts also contributed to the ADCC that day.
5/23/2005: Theresa Riggs contributed $2,000 to the campaign Congressman Don Young. Several other members of Troha’s family also wrote $2,000 checks to Young’s campaign that same day. In all, $16,000 was contributed by Riggs and Troha family members that day.
8/23/2006: Michael and Theresa Riggs each gave $2,000 to the campaign of Congressman Jim Oberstar. Dennis Troha, his family members, current / former ATC Leasing Co. employees, and a Kenosha Alderman also gave contributions to Oberstar that day. In all, they contributed almost $20,000.

Achille Infusino, Employee, ATC Leasing Co.

Contributions 2002 – 2007: $10, 575.00 (*$15,575 including donations made by wife) Contributions prior to 2002 (1993 – 2002): $3,490


Dates of Significance: 3/27/2002: Infusino contributed $500 to the campaign of Governor Jim Doyle. Members of Dennis Troha’s family, as well as Michael Pitts also contributed that same day.
5/27/2003: Infusino contributed $500.00 to the campaign of Congressman Paul Ryan. During the course of the next several days, several members of Dennis Troha’s family and members of the Michael Pitts family contributed more than $13,000 to Ryan’s campaign.
6/26/2003: Infusino, along Michael Pitts and members of Dennis Troha’s family contribute to the campaign of Al Foeckler, a Democrat running against State Representative Mark Honadel in southern Milwaukee County.
10/9/2003: Infusino contributes to the Doyle campaign the same day as Kenosha Aldermen Frank Pacetti, members of the Pitts family, John Erickson and Troha family members. $8,500 was contributed to the Doyle campaign that day.
6/3/2004: Infusino, John Erickson and members of the Michael Pitts family all contribute to the campaign of Assembly Minority Leader James Krueser.
9/15/2004: Infusino writes a $5,000 check to the ADCC. John Erickson and Dennis Troha family members also write checks for at least $1,000 that same day. In all, the ADCC receives $10,000.
1/28/2005: Infusino contributes to Doyle, along with John Erickson, Michael Riggs and members of the Pitts and Troha families. Contributions totaled $37,000.
4/29/2005: Infusino, Dennis Troha, Michael Pitts and several members of Troha’s family all contribute to the campaign of Congressman Paul Ryan. Contributions total $17,000.
2/3/2006: Achille’s wife, Joyce Infusino contributed $5,000 to the campaign of Governor Jim Doyle. Several people with ties to the Mohegan Indian Tribe also contributed to Governor Doyle that same period.
8/23/2006: Infusino contributed $500 to the campaign of Congressman Jim Oberstar. Dennis Troha and his family members also gave that same day, along with other potential members of the co-conspiracy. They gave almost $20,000.

And last but not least we cannot forget the Mohegan Indian Tribe.

Contributions from time period in question (2002- 2007): $69,775.00 (WI) Contributions prior to 2002: $0.00

Dates of Significance:

9/3/2005: Several members of Dennis Troha’s family, as well as individuals associated with the Mohegan Tribe, contribute to the campaign of State Senator Dale Schultz.
2/1 – 3/2006: Several individuals associated with the Mohegan Tribe contribute to the campaign of Governor Jim Doyle. Andrew Pitts, Linnea Pitts and Joyce Infusino each make $5,000 contributions to Gov. Doyle the same day. Over $20,000 is raised.

If you have read this through to the bottom you are a real trooper. I fully expect 90% of readers to have given up on this before reaching this point.

What this pattern of giving appears to show is a more widespread pattern of attempted influence than has ever been reported before. I have no idea how much of this the US Attorney has looked into, but the scale of this appears to be massive.

I believe in the power of math and to my view the coincidences here appear to be something less than random occurrences.

The very fact that this could be misdemeanor activity boggles my mind.

By the way, Governor Doyle has kept every penny.

I don't really have a dog in this hunt, I favor the Kenosha Casino. I fear that the shenanigans behind trying to move the project forward have in the end hurt the chances of this project coming to fruition.

I am also aware that right now no new casino applications are being processed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Might that change? In a lame duck administration maybe yes and maybe no.

In the short term I believe we need to treat persons willing to try and abuse the system more harshly. We don't need new laws, we need to enforce the laws that we already have and perhaps repeal some other ones. The first one I would like to see gone would be 527 PACS where organizations can hide where their funding is coming from.

I'm exceedingly curious to see how this investigation ends up. However, a slap on the wrist is not going to keep this sort of thing from happening again.

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