A former aide to Gov. Scott Walker when Walker was the Milwaukee County executive pleaded not guilty Friday to embezzlement charges.
Timothy D. Russell, 48, is accused of embezzling more than $21,000 in 2010 from a veterans-support organization account entrusted to him by Walker.
Russell also is accused of siphoning lesser sums from campaign accounts of two Milwaukee County Board candidates, and prosecutors say he helped set up a shadow Internet system that other Walker aides used to perform campaign work on county time.
He's charged with two felony counts and one misdemeanor count of embezzlement. He previously pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor and on Friday pleaded not guilty to the other charges.
Russell's lawyers filed a motion Friday to move the trial to another county, claiming the media attention would bias a potential jury. But Milwaukee County Judge David Hansher denied the motion, saying high-profile cases, including the Jeffrey Dahmer murders, were successfully tried in Milwaukee County. He said Walker had some support in the county in the last election and he was confident officials could find unbiased people on both sides, along with others who don't know all the details.
A final pre-trial hearing was set for June 4, with a trial scheduled for June 18. Russell's attorney, Andrew Franklin, said the defense probably wouldn't call Walker as a witness but hadn't decided for certain yet.
Russell is one of five of Walker's former close aides or associates charged in a secret investigation. Walker hasn't been charged with wrongdoing but has agreed to meet with prosecutors.
Those charged so far include Kelly Rindfleisch, Walker's deputy chief of staff before he became governor in 2011. She faces four felony counts of misconduct in office. Darlene Wink, who was Walker's county constituent services coordinator, faces two misdemeanor counts of political solicitation by a public employee.
It is illegal for public workers, while engaged in their official duties, to raise money or otherwise work on political campaigns or use their public workspaces to do so.
Russell and Kevin Kavanaugh were charged Jan. 5 with embezzling more than $60,000 from veterans and their families. Russell's domestic partner Brian Pierick is charged with child enticement, evidence of which was allegedly discovered during the investigation of one of the others. According to online court records, a judge denied a motion Friday to dismiss his charges for lack of probable cause. Another hearing is set for March 16.