The nearly three-year-old John Doe investigation into aides and associates of Gov. Scott Walker is closed, the judge who is overseeing that probe said Friday.
Neal Nettesheim, a retired state appeals court judge, said he entered an order Feb. 21 concluding the probe. The decision was made public after Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm concluded paperwork in the case.
No new charges will come from the John Doe investigation, Nettesheim said.
Chisholm confirmed the end of the investigation in a statement. “After a review of the John Doe evidence, I am satisfied that all charges that are supported by proof beyond a reasonable doubt have now been brought and concluded. As a consequence, last week my office petitioned for, and Judge Nettesheim has granted, the closure of the John Doe investigation.”
Milwaukee prosecutors launched a secret John Doe investigation into aides and associates of Walker nearly three years ago. Walker’s chief of staff contacted prosecutors over suspicions that more than the $11,000 was missing from Operation Freedom, a fund used to pay for an annual event to honor veterans and their families.
The investigation later was broadened into other areas, including another embezzlement case involving Operation Freedom money and two county employees in Walker’s office doing campaign work while at their taxpayer-paid county jobs.
Longtime Walker aide Timothy D. Russell pleaded guilty Nov. 29 to stealing more than $21,000 in Operation Freedom money. He was sentenced to two years in prison in January. Kelly Rindfleisch, who worked for Walker in the county executive’s office in 2010, was sentenced Nov. 19 to six months in jail for campaign fundraising at the courthouse using a secret email system installed there.
Democratic Party officials were still critical of the Republican governor, even though he was not charged in the probe.
"That Scott Walker avoided prosecution is no feather in his cap," Democratic Party spokesman Graeme Zielinski said. "He clearly was connected to criminal activity and he spent a half million dollars, through his unprecedented criminal defense fund, to waylay charges. The crimes convicted flow directly from Scott Walker’s belief that he is above the law."