By DINESH RAMDE
MILWAUKEE (AP) – Misconduct charges against a former aide to Gov. Scott Walker should be thrown out because the case hinges on testimony she had given under a non-prosecution agreement, her defense attorney said in a court filing this week.
Kelly M. Rindfleisch, who used to work for Walker when he was the Milwaukee County executive, faces a pre-trial hearing next month on charges she conducted campaign work on county time. She has pleaded not guilty to four counts of misconduct in office, felony charges that carry a maximum combined penalty of six years in prison and a $40,000 fine.
Defense attorney Frank Gimbel filed motions asking for the charges to be dismissed and prosecutors to be barred from bringing new ones. He said the case is based on information Rindfleisch gave under protected circumstances.
He also said investigators violated her privacy when they used an overly broad search warrant to access her personal email accounts.
Rindfleisch, 43, was Walker’s deputy chief of staff in Milwaukee County. She’s one of six Walker associates facing charges in a secret investigation, although Walker himself has not been charged with wrongdoing.
Rindfleisch already lost a bid to have the proceedings moved from Milwaukee County to Columbia County, where she lives in Columbus.
In his latest motion, Gimbel argued that some of the allegations in the criminal complaint were based on statements Rindfleisch made to investigators in 2002 under the promise of immunity.
“This prosecution is rooted in immunized testimony and therefore (should be) barred,” he said. He also asked that the district attorney’s office not be allowed to bring additional charges based on that testimony.
Meanwhile, prosecutors are seeking permission to introduce more email evidence. The original complaint referred to some 1,380 fundraising emails that Rindfleisch allegedly sent or received on company time. Prosecutors want to introduce emails from earlier threads that they say add necessary context.
Those emails will “complete the story behind the workday contacts in the charged counts,” prosecutors wrote in a motion.
The filing didn’t specify whether the emails in question were all from Rindfleisch’s work account. However, Gimbel has asked a judge to dismiss the overall case because of search warrants that asked Internet service providers for copies of all of her Gmail and Yahoo emails over a period of nearly two years.
The state should have requested only those emails relevant to its case, rather than conduct a “fishing expedition” by seeking every personal email Rindfleisch sent or received between Jan. 1, 2009, and Nov. 22, 2010, Gimbel wrote. The “sweeping nature” of the search violates Rindfleisch’s constitutional rights and invalidates the entire case, he said.
Rindfleisch’s pre-trial hearing is scheduled for July 19, and her trial is to start Oct. 15.