Three cheers forMilwaukee Circuit Court Judge Michael Brennan who threw out a plea agreement and imposed jail time on the saboteurs who slashed tires� on vans set to bring GOP voters to the polls the night before the election. The prosecution had negotiated guilty pleas with a recommendation for probation.
Calling the vandalism more than harmless hijinks, Brennan admonished the four men, including the sons of two prominent Milwaukee politicians, for disenfranchising voters. The judge said he had received letters from Milwaukee County citizens upset over the crime.
'They see you tampering with something they consider sacred and that's the ballot box,' Brennan said during a two—hour sentencing this morning.
Michael Pratt, 33, and Lewis Caldwell, 29, were each sentenced to six months in jail while Lavelle Mohammad, 36, got five months and Sowande Omokunde, 26, got four months. Each was also fined $1,000. They will be eligible for work release and were allowed to surrender to begin their sentences within two weeks.
Two of the defendants are children of high ranking Democrats:
Pratt is the son of former Acting Mayor Marvin Pratt and Omokunde is the son of U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore (D—Wis.)
Omokunde had the smarts or grace to apologize:
Omokunde told the judge that the 2004 presidential election sharply divided America but that no matter how divisive the election, no one had the right to commit vandalism.
'As a child I was taught honesty by my family and by my teachers. Your honor, I crossed the line,' Omokunde said, as his mother watched from the front row of the courtroom gallery.
To my way of thinking, electoral crime should be punished by multi—year sentences. It subverts democracy.
Thomas Lifson�� 4 26 06