RACINE - Mayor Gary Becker has been arrested on multiple felony charges related to attempted sexual assault of a child and having child pornography, according to a state agency.
Becker was taken into custody at Brookfield Square Mall in Brookfield on Tuesday afternoon. He was arrested on charges of child enticement, possession of child pornography, exposing a child to harmful materials, attempted second-degree sexual assault of a child, use of a computer to facilitate a child sex crime and misconduct in public office, according to the Wisconsin Division of Criminal Investigation.
A complaint made to the Racine Police Department several weeks ago led to the arrest, according to Lt. Jim Dobbs, a department spokesman.
At a press conference at City Hall on Wednesday morning, Dobbs said that city police then contacted DCI, which took over the investigation.
Upon his arrest Becker was transported to the Kenosha County Jail, where he remained until early Wednesday evening. He was released about 5:30 p.m., a little more than an hour after sister-in-law Jean Becker posted his bond, which had been set at $165,000 cash.
His attorney, Patrick Cafferty, said the family borrowed money to post the bond. Cafferty picked Becker up at the jail.
Racine County Sheriff Bob Carlson said local authorities made the decision to move Becker to Kenosha. "It's a better security process," he said. "It's not unusual."
However, the case is still a Racine County case, according to Deputy District Attorney Rich Chiapete. Attorneys were drafting the complaint on Wednesday, but it had not been released. Chiapete said they couldn't comment further until they received all of the paperwork on the investigation.
"We're still waiting on reports," Chiapete said. "We're anticipating it's going to be (Thursday)" that charges are formally filed.
If charges are filed, Becker would appear in Racine County Circuit Court at 1:30 p.m. Thursday for an initial appearance.
District Attorney Mike Nieskes said the case would be handled by his office, and not given to a special prosecutor.
"We do not have a conflict," Nieskes said. "While (Becker) is mayor in this community, I have no relationship with him and he has no direct relationship with this office."
Had Becker been in charge of a law enforcement agency, it is more likely that a special prosecutor would have taken over because of the close relationship the District Attorney's Office has with those agencies.
With charges coming out of the Racine County District Attorney's Office, at least some of the alleged illegal activity must have happened here. The Waukesha County District Attorney's Office could have filed charges, because Becker was arrested there, but Racine County has kept the case. Nieskes said his office is keeping Waukesha County informed about the case.
Racine Police Chief Kurt Wahlen said Wednesday morning that he was shocked by the allegations against Becker. He knew about the investigation when the department received the complaint, but said DCI handled it.
"They took the ball and ran with it," Wahlen said. "We moved into the back seat."
Bill Cosh, a spokesman for DCI, said Wednesday he was unable to provide any further details on their investigation. It has not been released where the child pornography was found, but City Attorney Rob Weber said no search warrants had been executed at City Hall.
Cosh would not say whether Becker's arrest was part of an online sting through DCI's Wisconsin Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force. In the ongoing program, state agents pose as underage children online. Suspects make contact with the agents and set up meetings, oftentimes for sex with what they think is a minor.
When the suspected predator shows up at the meeting place, they are arrested.