Man gets 6 years for attempting to solicit murders of three

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Jason Smathers
Saturday, June 26, 2010
— Even John Gorman admitted his mouth was his worst enemy.

He cursed a clerk who he thought sabotaged him.

He went off on a tirade to an officer that searched his home, ending with a gesture the officer interpreted as a target on his head.

He complained to inmates about the district attorney who put him away.

It was Gorman’s inability to stop obsessing about all three that led him to plot their murders.

When Gorman made his statement to the court before sentencing, he found himself at a loss for words.

“I can’t believe this whole thing happened,” Gorman said, as he slowly shook his head. “It just isn’t like me. I’m more the type of guy to help someone rather than hurt them.”

But Waukesha County Judge James Kieffer disagreed, calling him an “angry man” and sentencing him to six years in prison and five years of extended supervision.

“You had all this anger pent up,” Kieffer said. “In one fell swoop, you went hog wild.”

Gorman, 51, pleaded guilty April 9 to one count of solicitation of first-degree intentional homicide. Gorman attempted to hire an undercover police officer posing as a hit man to kill Walworth County Assistant District Attorney Diane Donohoo, East Troy police officer Kevin Weber and Village of East Troy Clerk Alita Bourdo.

Kieffer said he stopped short of giving Gorman the maximum sentence because of his relatively clean record before the incidents leading up to the plot.

Gorman was first arrested in 2009 for stalking Bourdo, whom he suspected of destroying evidence related to traffic citations he had received. Shortly after being released on bond, he was arrested again for bail jumping because he did not remove weapons found in his apartment by Weber. In each of these cases, Donohoo served as one of the prosecutors.

Defense attorney Chris Kuehn said Gorman had been shaken by an acrimonious divorce from his wife and what he felt was intimidation by a police officer who was his ex-wife’s “drinking buddy.”

While Kuehn did not defend Gorman’s actions, he cited jailhouse informant Robert Wheeler as a “prime motivator” in the plot. It was Wheeler, not Gorman, who initiated a conversation about taking out the three officials, Kuehn said.

Waukesha District Attorney Brad Schimel dismissed Wheeler as a “red herring,” saying law enforcement actually delayed arresting Gorman to prove his intent to kill the three. It was during this additional week that Gorman told the undercover cop that he would try to secure a weapon for the killings.

“We reached a point where we believed we couldn’t play this out any longer without risk,” Schimel said.

Gorman’s family stated in letters to the court that Gorman was a “nice man” who “would give you the shirt off his back,” but Kieffer noted their acknowledgment that he “couldn’t let things go.”

Given Gorman’s history of anger issues, Kieffer said, he needed to be removed from the community.

“No one should be scared to walk down the street, and you stole that from them, and I can’t allow that to occur anymore,” Kieffer said.

Gorman is ordered to participate in both anger management and a psychological assessment. Per Gorman’s request, Kieffer also ordered that Gorman not reside in Walworth County following his prison term.

Last updated: 1:59 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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