Former Wisconsin state senator faces federal charges
Published 2:25 pm Thursday, September 10, 2020
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A former Wisconsin state senator and tourism secretary has been charged in federal court with fraud and with storing and disposing of hazardous electronic waste without a permit, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Madison announced Thursday.
Kevin Shibilski, who served in the state Senate from 1995 to 2002, was charged Wednesday. His attorney, Mark Belongia, said Shibilski is a victim of fraud, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.
The indictment issued by a grand jury in Madison alleges Shibilski, 59, of Merrill, illegally stored and disposed of broken and crushed glass from cathode ray tubes at warehouses operated by 5R Processors Ltd. in Wisconsin and Tennessee, and that the material was hazardous because of lead toxicity.
The indictment also charges Shibilski with eight counts of wire fraud for taking in nearly $5.8 million from clients but failing to recycle more than 8.3 million pounds (3.8 million kilograms) of their crushed glass from cathode ray tubes containing lead, and instead stockpiled it at the 5R facilities.
In July, Shibilski sued his former business partners at 5R, claiming they used false books and records to lure investors, including Shibilski.
“We strongly disagree with the allegations in the indictment,” Belongia said Thursday. “Our civil case correctly lays out the whole story. Namely, our client is a victim of fraud and not the perpetrator.”
5R recycled electronic equipment, appliances and other items. It had facilities and warehouses in Ladysmith, Glen Flora, Catawba and West Bend, in Wisconsin, along with Morristown, Tenn.
Shibilski is also charged with conspiracy to defraud the U.S. by failing to pay and evasion of more than $850,000 in employment and income taxes for 5R Processors and its associated entities.
Each wire fraud charge carries up to 20 years in federal prison. The hazardous waste charge and the tax charge each carry up to five years.
Shibilski’s civil lawsuit alleges that his former partners started a competing company that stole 5R’s assets, including cash, equipment, confidential company data and customer lists.
Shibilski ran for lieutenant governor in 2002 but was defeated by fellow Democrat Barbara Lawton. Later that year, governor-elect Jim Doyle appointed Shibilski as state tourism secretary, but Shibilski stepped down in April 2003.