By Molly Beck and Keegan Kyle
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Heroin and crack cocaine distributors agreed to prison sentences far below maximum penalties in three cases handled by Democratic attorney general candidate Josh Kaul when he was a federal prosecutor in Baltimore.
Attorney General Brad Schimel and Republican allies say the cases show Kaul has been too weak on drug crimes to lead the state Department of Justice.
Pointing to federal cases Kaul handled in Baltimore that resulted in plea deals for drug traffickers and sentences below maximum penalties, Republicans say Kaul’s claim that Schimel has not done enough to prevent opioid abuse falls flat.
In one case, Kaul worked with Rosenstein to reach a plea agreement with Austin Roberts III, who conspired for years to distribute heroin, cocaine and crack cocaine. Authorities identified more than $200,000 worth of the narcotics Roberts was responsible for selling.
Roberts faced a maximum life prison sentence for the trafficking and a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison. Ultimately, Roberts agreed to plead guilty to in exchange for 19 years in prison, according to court records. A co-defendant faced up to 20 years in prison. He ultimately agreed to 66 months of imprisonment, which was below recommended sentences, according to court records.
Johnny Koremenos, spokesman for Schimel, said the cases show Kaul’s “record is thin and what is there shows he goes easy on drug dealers.”
“Kaul has never prosecuted a criminal case in Wisconsin, not one — ever, and his track record in Baltimore shows he’s weak on crime,” Koremenos said.
Schimel’s campaign has released an ad that says Kaul has given “lighter sentences” to more than 60 drug dealers.
Kaul and Schimel will face voters in four weeks. Results of a Marquette Law School Poll released Wednesday show Schimel leads Kaul by 4 percentage points. The poll also showed 81 percent of those polled didn’t know much about Kaul.
In response, Koremenos said: “It is sad that the failing campaign of Madison activist Josh Kaul keeps trotting out these highly partisan Madison insiders,” pointing to donations to Democratic candidates and many signing a petition to trigger a recall election of Walker in 2012.
Greene has donated to Kaul and to the campaigns of liberal-leaning judges and Supreme Court candidates, but not to Democratic lawmakers, according to state campaign finance records. He signed the Walker recall petition.
“They hold a press conference, in the middle of the most liberal city in the state, to try to convince folks that Brad Schimel is the partisan,” Koremenos said. “Josh Kaul is a politician, not a prosecutor.”
Koremenos said Schimel has support from more than a dozen Democratic county sheriffs and five district attorneys.
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