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High court to hear oral arguments in ex-New Berlin mayor disciplinary case

The Wisconsin Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Thursday in the disciplinary case of a former New Berlin mayor.

The case stems from an Office of Lawyer Regulation complaint filed in 2013 against James Gatzke, asking the high court to revoke his law license and pay $300,000 in restitution to a former client. The agency alleges Gatzke misappropriated and mishandled hundreds of thousands of dollars he was paid by Patricia Schaeffer.

Schaeffer was married to Steven Wiederholt, a Brookfield investment advisor who allegedly killed himself in June 2005 during a lawsuit alleging that Wiederholt stole $3.5 million from a former business partner. Schaeffer retained Gatzke to handle remaining criminal and civil matters after his Wiederholt’s death.

Schaeffer was also a business partner in some of Gatzke’s real estate ventures, and Gatzke handled her personal finances.

According to court filings, Gatzke is arguing that while he did break some of the trust-account recordkeeping rules, he did not take money he was holding in trust for Schaeffer and transfer it into other accounts and use it for personal expenses.

Gatzke, a personal-injury lawyer, is being represented by Terry Johnson of Peterson, Johnson & Murray SC.

Gatzke graduated from Marquette University Law School in 1994. According to the Wisconsin State Bar and OLR websites, his license is active and in good standing. He was mayor of New Berlin from 1997 to 2001.

About Erika Strebel, [email protected]

Erika Strebel is the law beat reporter for the Wisconsin Law Journal and a law school student at UW-Madison. She can be reached at 414-225-1825.

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