May 10, 2002
Reliable sources tell Action 2 News that Winnebago County District Attorney Joe Paulus is under investigation concerning bribes. The FBI would not comment on whether it is investigating Paulus.
Action 2 News Fox Valley Bureau Chief Jerry Burke has been working on this story for several weeks and says his sources confirm the FBI is deeply involved.
Two people confirmed to him Friday that they've been questioned by FBI agents concerning the investigation. Other sources told him the probe centers on at least four cases in which people allegedly paid large sums of money to have charges against them dismissed or at least greatly reduced.
At least two of those cases involved repeat drunk drivers. In one case, an Oshkosh woman was facing her fourth drunk driving conviction. In a statement to a police officer, she claimed if she paid an extra $5,000 to her attorney, the case would be dismissed. She paid, and it was.
Our sources say another case under investigation involves a Ripon man. His third drunk driving offense was greatly reduced even after the judge questioned the plea agreement.
Our sources say records from other cases have been mysteriously altered.
Records from the district attorney, sheriff's and clerks of courts offices are housed in one building. The county executive told Burke she ordered the locks on the building changed after she was told by detectives that somebody was getting in the building and tampering with the records.
The county executive said whoever was doing it avoided using the card swipe, which would have recorded who entered the building and when.
Joe Paulus told Action 2 News he knows nothing about any FBI investigation and wouldn't dignify the claims by granting an interview. He also said the whole thing is a smear campaign by his opponents.
Paulus is being challenged by his assistants, E.J. Jelinski and Brad Priebe. Both Jelinski and Priebe said they have no comment at this time.