By SCOTT BAUER
WAUKESHA, Wis. (AP) – The domestic partner of one of Gov. Scott Walker’s top aides when he was Milwaukee County executive was found guilty Friday of a misdemeanor charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor under a deal reached with prosecutors.
Brian Pierick was initially charged with felony child enticement and causing a child to expose his genitals in connection with text messages he sent to a 17-year-old Waukesha boy in late 2010. The evidence was uncovered during a secret investigation of the Milwaukee County executive’s office when Walker held that post between 2002 and 2010.
Pierick pleaded no contest to the lesser charge Friday and agreed to complete 50 hours of community service as part of the deal. Waukesha County Circuit Judge Patrick Haughney found him guilty and set sentencing for Feb. 14.
Assistant Milwaukee County District Attorney Sara Lewis said a fine of up to $10,000 also will be recommended at the sentencing.
Pierick appeared in court with his attorney. He declined to comment after the 30-minute hearing.
Pierick, of Sun Prairie, was one of six people charged with crimes stemming from the so-called John Doe investigation into people connected with the county executive’s office under Walker. Four former Walker aides as well as a campaign donor have been convicted on charges ranging from theft to misconduct in office.
One of those is Pierick’s longtime domestic and business partner Tim Russell. He was sentenced to two years in prison on Tuesday after he was convicted of stealing more than $20,000 from a nonprofit group Walker appointed him to lead when Walker was county executive.
Pierick, 49, was charged because prosecutors said an examination of phones and computers seized from Russell showed Pierick had attempted to solicit minors for sex. Pierick exchanged text messages with a 17-year-old boy and tried to entice him into his van, but the boy declined, according to the criminal complaint.
Pierick’s attorney, public defender Maura McMahon, said Pierick believed the boy he was communicating with via text messages was an adult because the boy told him he was 19.
“The last thing he wanted was contact with a minor,” she said.
The judge, in accepting the deal, noted that under Wisconsin criminal law a 17-year-old is treated as an adult.
“It’s not as though this was a 13- or 14-year-old, but someone who is treated as an adult for criminal purposes,” the judge said.
Also, the boy told Pierick he was over 18, unlike other cases where undercover police officers represent themselves openly as minors, the judge said.
“This doesn’t fit the typical enticement case one often sees in criminal court,” the judge said.
Lewis said prosecutors were willing to strike the deal for the lesser contributing to the delinquency of a minor charge given a variety of mitigating factors, including results of a psychiatric evaluation that did not recommend Pierick receive sex offender treatment.
“Having this evaluation satisfies concerns at this point about Mr. Pierick presenting an ongoing potential risk to the community,” Lewis told the judge.
A misdemeanor conviction along with the community service, and perhaps a fine, “constitutes sufficient punishment in this case,” she said.
Other factors included Pierick having no criminal record, his vigilance in following his bond conditions and his steady employment, Lewis said. Pierick declined to say after the hearing where he was working. He briefly worked for the state Department of Public Instruction but was fired without cause in January 2012 during his six-month probationary window.
Pierick’s plea deal came before his trial was set to begin Tuesday.
Pierick was not as closely associated with Walker as others ensnared in a secret investigation prosecutors launched into Walker’s county administration in May 2010. He donated $250 to Walker in 2005 and volunteered with his campaigns. At one time, Pierick was listed as the registrant of Walker’s current campaign website but he was later replaced by Russell.