Milwaukee Pension Flap Sparks Criminal Charges

May 14, 2002 ( - Milwaukee County's former personnel chief was charged with official misconduct for his role in the adoption of a controversial pension plan that sparked a political furor and led to the former county executive's resignation.

According to an Associated Press news report, former personnel chief Gary Dobbert misrepresented the cost of the pension plan to county board members – a plan that would have given Dobbert a $353,000 payout in addition to $5,300 in monthly payments.

Without the new plan, Dobbert, the plan’s principal author, would have only gotten $5,900 in monthly payments and no lump sum payout.

The Dobbert proposal would have also given similar large payouts to other high-ranking officials.

Total Recall

The uproar sparked when the implications of the Dobbert plan came to light, prompted Dobbert to step down from his post in January and former county executive Thomas Ament to resign a month later in the face of a recall petition that garnered twice the number of necessary signatures (see Milwaukee County Exec Steps Down ). Other county officials also stepped aside in the midst of the controversy (see Pumped Pension Payouts Prompt Resignations ).

Some employees are still receiving payouts under the plan. Employees cannot be denied the payouts unless they voluntarily sign waivers, as Ament did before his resignation.

The pension changes will cost the county’s 2003 budget about $10 million, said Steve Mokrohisky, spokesman for current County Executive Scott Walker.

Dobbert is charged with three counts of misconduct in public office. The felony charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.