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Convicted contractor to appeal 5-month sentence

Homer Key

Homer Key

Homer Key, the Milwaukee contractor sentenced to 5 months in prison for his role in a federal money kickback scheme, will appeal his conviction.

A jury in May found Key guilty of felony forgery and conspiracy to commit the crime of having a private interest in a public contract.

According to the criminal complaint the state filed against Key, he was accused of stealing more than $40,000 in grant money from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The jury found Key not guilty on two felony theft charges.

According to the complaint, Key colluded with former Milwaukee County employee Freida Webb, who used to run the county’s Office of Community Business Development Partners, which oversees educational programming for disadvantaged business enterprises. Webb hired Key from 2005 through 2010 to run educational seminars using the grant money. In 2011, Webb did not hire Key and attempted to operate the program herself. She struggled, however, and eventually asked Key for help.

The jury determined Key and Webb backdated a contract, which was the basis of the forgery charge, and that Key paid Webb $2,700 after he was paid for his work in 2011, which was the basis of the conspiracy charge.

After Key’s conviction, one of his attorneys, Richard Hart Jr., of Milwaukee-based Hart Law Offices, said he did not believe the convictions on the forgery and conspiracy charges were valid. If Key forged the 2011 contract, he said, then it could not have been a valid document that could sustain the conspiracy charge.

On Tuesday, Milwaukee Circuit Court Judge William Brash initially sentenced Key to 30 months in the House of Correction for each of the two felony convictions and ruled that those terms would be served consecutively. However, he then suspended that sentence and put Key on probation for 30 months instead on the condition that he serve five months in the House of Correction and perform 100 hours of community service. He does not have to pay restitution to Milwaukee County.

According to online court records, Hart filed the notice of appeal Thursday. He said he will not be the appellate attorney.

Webb was sentenced Monday to 100 hours of community service and one year of probation. She must pay Milwaukee County $13,362.50 in restitution.

In September, she pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor theft charge in exchange for the state’s dropping felony charges against her. After sentencing, her attorney, Rodney Cubbie, said he did not expect her to appeal.

About Beth Kevit, beth.kevit@wislawjournal.com

Beth Kevit is the Milwaukee city beat reporter and also covers real estate. She can be reached at beth.kevit@wislawjournal.com or 414-225-1820.

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