Former police union president and felon may still be running charity

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- FOX6 News first broke the story of former Milwaukee Police Union President Bradley Debraska -- a convicted felon -- reportedly helping officers accused of crimes file duty disability claims. Those claims insure the officers keep getting most of their salary, no matter what happens with their criminal case. Now, FOX6 News has learned Debraska is also raising eyebrows for something he took with him when he left the union.

Milwaukee Police Detective Rodolfo Gomez is one of the most recent Milwaukee police officers to file for disability one day before he was charged with misconduct in public office -- accused of beating a handcuffed inmate.

Gomez is one of several Milwaukee police officers who have filed for "duty disability," claiming mental stress.

Sources tell FOX6 News Debraska has been showing up with officers at City Hall to help file disability claims.

Debraska now works as a consultant with the Milwaukee Police Supervisors Organization -- and is also a convicted felon.

Debraska, the former head of the Milwaukee Police Association spent six months in prison after he was convicted in August of 2009 of forging documents.

In 1993, he was arguably one of Milwaukee's top power brokers.

At that time, while head of the Milwaukee Police Union, Debraska helped to start up a non-profit charity called the "Police Officer Defense Fund."

It was designed in part to help officers in legal trouble. Tax records from 2011 show the fund had more than 160,000 in assets.

In 2005, Debraska's term as president ended.

When he left office, he continued to run the charity.

The Police Officer Defense Fund's current address is Debraska's home. The charity's website shows he is the chairman of the fund.

Recent tax forms for the non-profit show that in 2011, the fund took in nearly $30,000 in contributions, gifts and grants. That same year, it paid more than $38,000 in salaries.

On the salary list, Debraska was paid $16,400, and another $10,877 was paid to the bookkeeper -- Debraska's wife, Chris.

It is important to note, it is not a violation of federal rules for a felon -- even one convicted of forgery and identity theft, to run a charity. It is not illegal for Debraska and his wife to take salaries.

Sources tell FOX6 News some union members have expressed and continue to express concerns about a lack of oversight about how the fund is managed.

The union maintains no oversight of this fund, and how their members contributions are spent.

In 2009, a memo obtained by FOX6 News says in response to concerns and questions about the Police Officer Defense Fund, "any MPA member wishing to discontinue their voluntary payroll contribution must contact the fund directly."

The memo was posted on bulletin boards at police stations and online. It is not clear how many officers actually read it or are still contributing.

FOX6 News has reached out to Debraska and so far, he hasn't commented.

When asked, the Mayor's Office says it is agitated about what is going on, but would not comment specifically about the issues involved.

On the Police Officer Defense Fund's website, it says the fund was created in 1993, and became a non-profit in 1996 in the wake of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer's crimes.

During that time, several Milwaukee police officers were accused of wrongdoing and had to defend themselves.