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Ex-legislator gets 33 months in employment tax charge case


A former state lawmaker who once served as Wisconsin’s tourism secretary has been sentenced to 33 months in prison after pleading guilty to failing to pay nearly $200,000 in employment taxes.

U.S. District Judge James Peterson sentenced former state Sen. Kevin Shibilski on Tuesday. Shibilski, 61, pleaded guilty last year to willfully not paying about $197,500 in federal employment taxes for two companies linked to an electronic equipment recycling operation he ran about 10 years ago, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.

In exchange for Shibilski’s guilty plea, the U.S. Attorney’s Office agreed to dismiss all other charges on which a grand jury indicted him in September 2020, including eight counts of wire fraud and storing and disposing of hazardous waste without a permit, according to court documents.

Shibilski, a Democrat from Merrill, represented the 24th Senate District from 1995 to 2002, when he unsuccessfully ran in the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor. He later served as state tourism secretary under Gov. Jim Doyle.

Under sentencing guidelines, Peterson could have given Shibilski a sentence shorter than 33 months had he thought the former elected official had taken responsibility for his misconduct.

But during Tuesday's sentencing hearing, Shibilski grew combative and blamed his former business associates and the IRS for the events that led to his prosecution.

“He has blamed everybody but himself,” Peterson said of Shibilski, calling his avoidance of paying taxes “blatant theft from the United States.”

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