One of Gov. Jim Doyle's biggest campaign contributors was indicted Thursday on federal charges that he funneled more than $100,000 in donations to Doyle to secure approval for a planned Indian casino.
Kenosha businessman Dennis Troha is charged with fraud and making a false statement to the FBI. He faces up to 25 years in prison and a fine up to $500,000 if convicted.
Prosecutors allege the donations were made "in an attempt to obtain an Indian gaming compact," according to the indictment.
Until last week, Troha had been pushing for a casino in Kenosha that needs Doyle's approval. Doyle and Troha denied the donations had to do with the casino proposal.
But Troha removed himself from the project Feb. 23, saying he wanted to devote himself to other issues. His share is being taken over by the Mohegan Tribe of Connecticut, which is working to build the casino with the Menominee Tribe in Wisconsin.
Between 2002 and 2006, Troha and 12 family members gave $200,000 directly to Doyle's campaign. Troha and his relatives gave an additional $265,000 to the Democratic Governors Association, the federal account for the Wisconsin Democratic Party and Doyle's two inaugural balls.
Exceeded $10,000 limit
State law limits any individual to $10,000 in donations for state and local races, which includes the governor's race.
Troha's attorney, Frank Gimbel, issued a news release saying Troha's actions were "legal and responsible" and that he would be exonerated.
Doyle issued a news release saying his campaign was not aware of anything that would suggest the contributions were inappropriate or unlawful.
"By all appearances, they were indistinguishable from the many contributions received by countless campaigns, Democratic and Republican, across the state," the governor said.
Doyle said he would return the money, however, should the allegations be proven true.