April 26, 2004
By Jerry Burke
Former Winnebago County district attorney Joe Paulus is
now a convicted felon. He pleaded guilty in court Monday to
using the mail to accept bribes, and tax evasion. Prosecutors
said Paulus took $48,000 in bribes in exchange for reduced
sentences, during his time as DA, mostly for drunk driving cases in
1998 and 1999.
Paulus arrived at the federal court in Green Bay about 10 minutes early, when he said:
"It's a tough day for me and my family, but I'm here to
take responsibility and move forward."
"I understand that I am going to prison. I understand that I will surrender my right to practice law anywhere in the country. I understand that I will be a convicted felon and carry that stigma for the rest of my life," the statement said.
Several people who blew the whistle on Paulus attended
the hearing, including one of Paulus' former
assistants. E.J. Jelinski says he's convinced the federal
investigation is just the tip of the iceberg and that what Paulus did
illegally didn't just happen during two years.
Menasha police officer Ann Gollner is the one who blew the whistle on Paulus, after which Paulus tried getting her fired. Ann and her husband both attended today's hearing.
"We both needed to hear him say he was guilty," she says, "and it doesn't go any more than that. It's a part that we need to move on, and I feel we're ready to do that after sitting through the hearing today."
Paulus left the courthouse quickly following today's hearing. He'll remain free until his July 22nd sentencing. However, Monday's plea does not prevent the state from also pursuing charges against him.
"I certainly don't intend to duplicate everything that federal authorities have already done," says state assistant attorney general Dan Bach, "and I don't know there's any need to do that, but as I've said, we intend to focus on state offenses that may not have been involved or the focus of the federal investigation."
||Truth in Justice