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Four Milwaukee Democrat Tire Slashers Cop Pleas

And get off with the gentlest of wrist slaps. Thanks to a jury which I suspect was comprised all too much of their peers.

From the Chicago Tribune:

Democratic campaign workers convicted in tire slashing case

BY JOHN KEILMAN
Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO – Four Democratic activists from Milwaukee were convicted of a misdemeanor Friday for their alleged role in slashing the tires of Republican-rented vehicles on Election Day 2004, while a fifth was acquitted.

That ended a case highlighted by the defense suggestion that the local men were taking the rap for out-of-town political operatives who were aiding a nationwide campaign of Democratic dirty tricks.

The vandalism took place a few hours before the polls opened in Wisconsin, a hard-fought state in the 2004 presidential election. Twenty-five cars and vans rented by the Republicans were crippled, delaying the party's plan to ferry observers and voters to the polls.

A security guard at the GOP's office wrote down the license plate of a suspicious car, which led investigators to five young men working for the Kerry-Edwards campaign. Two of them were the children of prominent Milwaukee Democrats, including former Mayor Marvin Pratt and the city's current congresswoman, Rep. Gwen Moore.

The evidence against them came largely from the testimony of campaign organizers who had arrived in Wisconsin from out of state to work for the Democratic ticket.

The imported campaigners said they had planned an election morning prank of papering the nearby Republican offices with Kerry-Edwards signs and bumper stickers, only to call it off when they spotted security. But some testified that they later saw the local men leave the office and return bragging about flattening the tires.

The defense attorneys tried to blame the out-of-towners, with some insinuating that the tire slashings were part of a coordinated effort to disrupt GOP operations. Democratic leaders said there was no such plan and even Republicans found the claim hard to swallow.

The trial lasted for eight days, and jurors were in their second day of deliberations when they sent out a note indicating that they had deadlocked.

That set the stage for a Friday afternoon plea deal. Four of the five, including the sons of the mayor and the congresswoman – Michael Pratt, 33; Sowande Omokunde, 26; Lewis Caldwell, 29; and Lavelle Mohammad, 36 – pleaded no contest to misdemeanor criminal damage to property.

Prosecutor David Feiss said he would ask for probation at an April sentencing hearing. The men also agreed to pay for the $5,300 in damage.

Soon after the plea deal, the jury announced a not guilty verdict for Justin Howell, 21. The charge he faced, felony criminal damage to property, could have put him in prison for 3 1/2 years.

Rick Graber, chairman of the Republican Party of Wisconsin, was not happy with the outcome.

"I think on balance we're disappointed that an effort to disrupt an election gets just a misdemeanor and probation," he said. "I think it sends absolutely the wrong message and I hope when it comes time for sentencing that (the judge) carefully considers what went on here."

But defense attorney Craig Mastantuono, whose client took the plea, said the case never would have gone to trial had not some of the defendants been from politically prominent families.

"There was pressure brought to bear that made a (pre-trial plea) deal impossible for the District Attorney's office," he said. "… This jury forced that deal."

It's a sad day. These thugs stuck at the very foundation of our system of government.

Remember this outcome when the next talking head from our one party media begins to pontificate on the sanctity of "one man, one vote."

Still, isn't it funny? After all the cries of wolf from the media about all the Republican shenanigans during the election, the only convictions so far have been for Democrats?

Weird, huh?

(Thanks to ever-watchful JohnX for the sad tidings.)

This article was posted by Steve on Saturday, January 21st, 2006. Comments are currently closed.

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