MILWAUKEE — FOX6 News has uncovered new details in a bribery case against former Milwaukee County Supervisor Johnny Thomas.Court documents obtained by FOX6 News describe several interviews Thomas went through on the day of his arrest after an undercover sting implicated him.
On December 2nd, 2011, Milwaukee County Administrative Services Director Patrick Farley took part in a sting operation that would reveal Thomas accepted bribes. 10 days later, Thomas was arrested and according to court documents, performed a similar sting operation of his own.
Ray Dall’osto is a Milwaukee-area defense attorney. He does not represent Thomas, but has seen this type of situation before. Dall’osto says a suspect typically agrees to go undercover to shift the investigation off themselves. “Mr. Thomas did not have the counsel of a lawyer to tell him what to do. In effect, he was trying to bargain to help himself out of a situation to some degree. Sometimes the discussion is had about becoming a cooperating witness. In other words, we’re investigating ‘X,Y,Z,’ and we have all of this against you. You can help yourself by cooperating and maybe either going to talk, getting wired, working undercover,” Dall’osto said.
A motion written by the defense in Thomas’ case says Thomas maintained his innocence throughout four separate interviews. Now, the prosecution wants to have Thomas’ responses kept out of the trial, arguing hearsay. Thomas’ defense believes they should be kept in, to show Thomas’ reactions were that of an innocent man.
“This is going to be a contentious issue in this case and there’ll be more briefing, quite likely, because it will be important for the defense of Mr. Thomas,” Dall’osto said.
As for the actual undercover operation performed by Thomas, the court documents leave out a lot of details. The documents say Thomas wore an audio recording device, and was told to approach a potential county contractor and suggest they offer a bribe to other board supervisors. The Milwaukee County District Attorney has said no one else is being charged in connection with this investigation.