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Sic Semper Tyrannis

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Troha Indicted

By John Diedrich and Cary Spivak
Ex-casino partner charged with fraud

Millionaire Kenosha businessman Dennis Troha, who until recently was a partner in a proposed $808 million tribal casino project, was charged in federal court today with fraud and lying to the FBI.

The 8-page indictment, returned in Milwaukee, accuses Troha of breaking campaign finance laws for donations he and his family made to Gov. Jim Doyle's campaign in 2006, and possibly other campaigns. U.S. Attorney Steven M. Biskupic is speaking about the indictment at a news conference.

The indictment says the charges are in "connection with activities involving campaign contributions and a potential Indian casino in Kenosha, Wisconsin." Troha, 60, funneled more than $100,000 through an entity called Johnson Houston Partners to family members for them to make the political contributions, according to the indictment.

Troha concealed the true nature of the financial transactions, and during a Jan. 12 interview with FBI agents falsely stated that there was no link between Johnson Houston and the family campaign contributions, the indictment charges.

The casino deal could have earned Troha $88 million over seven years, according to records filed with the federal government as part of the Menominee tribe's application for the casino. Federal law gives Doyle veto power over any off-reservation casino in the state. Troha and 12 family members have donated $200,000 to Doyle since he first ran for governor five years ago, sometimes writing checks on the same day, campaign records show. Troha also played a role in sponsoring both of Doyle's inauguration celebrations. It is the second person with ties to the Doyle administration to be charged in federal court.

Last year, former state purchasing employee Georgia Thompson. She was convicted of steering a travel contract to a company whose executives had given the Doyle campaign large contributions.

Late Friday, Troha abruptly announced he was pulling out of the casino deal. A spokesman cited "long-term business considerations" and a family medical problem as the reasons. On Saturday, the Journal Sentinel revealed a federal investigation was launched earlier this year into Troha's contributions.Troha reported to the state in 2005 that he was worth $33.7 million.