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Obituaries and death notices for Nov. 21, 2019

Michael Roy Krutsch

Kris E. Mawhinney

Alice G. Sanders

Clifford “Cliff” Schiefelbein

Judith Ann “Judy” Trudeau

Raymond R. Unrine Jr.

Kathern V. Ward

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Former Rock County sheriff's deputy sentenced for domestic violence


A former Rock County sheriff’s deputy pleaded guilty Wednesday to domestic abuse charges in Rock County Court, but his sentence will run concurrent to one he is already serving in a related case.

Judge John Wood sentenced Keegan J. Kelly, 27, of 3506 La Mancha Drive, Janesville, to two years of probation on charges of criminal damage to property and disorderly conduct. A battery charge was dismissed.

By law, the sentence must run concurrent to one he received after a previous conviction in Sauk County, also on domestic violence charges involving the same victim in a Feb. 12 incident.

The Rock County sentence carries an extra requirement: long-term domestic violence counseling.

Angela Major 

People in the gallery glance across the courtroom during Keegan Kelly’s sentencing Wednesday at the Rock County Courthouse in Janesville.

Kelly was convicted Aug. 5 in Sauk County of three misdemeanors: battery, intimidation of a victim and disorderly conduct for assaulting the woman in a hotel room. He was sentenced in that case to three years probation and 90 days in jail.

A felony count of strangulation/suffocation as domestic abuse was held open for four years. If he successfully completes the probation plus an additional year, the felony charge can be dismissed.

The local charges were for a Jan. 1 incident in Janesville, in which he yelled at the woman, dumped fast food on her car, punched the car window, damaged her residence and grabbed her by the arm and throat, threatening to kill her, according to the criminal complaint.

The victim addressed the court Wednesday and complained Kelly had been let out of the Sauk County Jail early.

Defense attorney Jack Hoag said Kelly performed community service in a jail program to earn a 20-day reduction.

The victim also claimed Kelly was seen buying alcohol. He is not to consume alcohol as a condition of his probation. Hoag said that is not true.

The probation recommendation was worked out with Rock County District Attorney David O’Leary, Hoag said.

Hoag noted Kelly had no prior criminal record, lost his job with the sheriff’s office and can never again work in law enforcement, and has been undergoing counseling.

Angela Major 

Judge John Wood speaks to Keegan Kelly during Kelly’s sentencing Wednesday at the Rock County Courthouse in Janesville.

Kelly has not been able to find work yet, Hoag said.

Kelly apologized and said he is “seeking faith” in church and “becoming a better man every single day. I let my emotions get the better of me that day.”

Wood said the case is “troubling. … As a law enforcement officer, you should have known better.”

The victim repeated her belief Kelly will abuse another woman in the future, but Wood said the court must consider rehabilitation.

“I believe people can change. If I didn’t, this would be a very depressing job,” Wood said.

“If he does the treatment, if he does what he’s supposed to do, not only the victim and the victim’s family will be protected, but other people in our community will hopefully be protected, as well,” Wood said.

Kelly still faces a restitution hearing. The victim is asking for $2,884 for damages to her home and car.

Angela Major 

Keegan Kelly appears in court for his sentencing Wednesday at the Rock County Courthouse in Janesville.

Steve Pophal

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Janesville voters might see schools referendum next year


Janesville School District voters might see a building maintenance referendum on the ballot in November 2020.

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At a Wednesday meeting of the Janesville School Board Finance Committee, Superintendent Steve Pophal and Chief Financial Officer Dan McCrea presented a draft timeline for a November 2020 referendum to cover an unspecified amount of maintenance to district buildings.

The need for a referendum has not been discussed by the full board, but the topic has come up during discussions over maintenance issues and other school needs, Pophal said in an interview after the meeting.

At a school board meeting in May, board member Kevin Murray warned the district might have to go to referendum to cover its maintenance needs. At issue then—and now—is a report from Unesco, a Madison-based management firm, that outlined needs ranging from replacement of aging boilers to asbestos abatement.

Of the $120.43 million in projects, an estimated $77.84 million worth of items are in the “alert” or “alarm” categories, according to the firm’s report.

For the past several years, the board has been whittling away at the projects, doing as many as it could afford each year.

The projects were funded either through the district’s capital improvement budget or through Act 32.

Act 32, which the Legislature passed in 2009, allowed school districts to exceed state-imposed revenue caps for projects that resulted in energy savings.

Revenue caps limit the amount of money districts can raise. If a district needs more money, a referendum is often the only option.

About $15 million in projects were completed using Act 32, committee Chairman Greg Ardrey said after the meeting.

But the state did away with Act 32, so that funding method is no longer available.

The scope or amount of the referendum has not been determined, and Ardrey and others want to gather data showing what the district already has done to care for its buildings.

Committee member Cathy Myers suggested focusing on projects that would improve energy efficiency and/or improve the student’s learning environment.

Committee member Jim Millard suggested safety improvements should be a part of the list, as well.

The school district’s administration is interviewing consultants to help guide the process. That individual or company will be presented for board approval at the first board meeting in December. Pophal said they were looking at consultants that didn’t have a vested interest in the outcome of the referendum.

According to the draft referendum timeline, December and January would be spent getting updated cost estimates, defining what would be covered, determining how much to ask for and getting feedback from stakeholders.

February and March would be focused on “community engagement,” including possible public comment sessions.

April through June would be focused on a community survey. The final board vote on a referendum resolution would be in August.

Trump directed Ukraine quid pro quo, key witness says


Ambassador Gordon Sondland declared to impeachment investigators Wednesday that President Donald Trump and his lawyer Rudy Giuliani explicitly sought a “quid pro quo” with Ukraine, trying to leverage an Oval Office visit for political investigations of Democrats. But he also came to believe the trade involved much more.

Besides the U.S. offer of a coveted meeting at the White House, Sondland testified it was his understanding the president was holding up nearly $400 million in military aid, which Ukraine badly needed to contend with an aggressive Russia on its border, in exchange for the country’s announcement of the investigations.

Sondland conceded that Trump never told him directly the security assistance was blocked for the probes, a gap in his account that Republicans and the White House seized on as evidence the president did nothing wrong. But the ambassador said his dealings with Giuliani, as well as administration officials, left him with the clear understanding of what was at stake.

“Was there a ‘quid pro quo?’” Sondland testified in opening remarks. “With regard to the requested White House call and White House meeting, the answer is yes.”

The rest, he said, was obvious: “Two plus two equals four.”

Later Wednesday, another witness undercut a main Republican argument—that Ukraine didn’t even realize the money was being held up. The Defense Department’s Laura Cooper testified that Ukrainian officials started asking about it on July 25, which was the day of Trump’s phone call with the country’s new president when he first asked for a “favor.”

Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union and a major donor to Trump’s inauguration, was the most highly anticipated witness in the House’s impeachment inquiry into the 45th president of the United States.

In often-stunning testimony, he painted a picture of a Ukraine pressure campaign that was prompted by Trump himself, orchestrated by Giuliani and well-known to other senior officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Sondland said he raised his concerns about a quid pro quo for military aid with Vice President Mike Pence—a conversation a Pence adviser vigorously denied.

Pompeo also dismissed Sondland’s account.

However, Sondland said, “Everyone was in the loop. It was no secret.”

The ambassador said that he and Trump spoke directly about desired investigations, including a colorful cellphone call this summer overheard by others at a restaurant in Kyiv.

Trump himself insists daily that he did nothing wrong and the Democrats are just trying to drum him out of office.

As the hearing proceeded, he spoke to reporters outside the White House. Reading from notes written with a black marker, Trump quoted Sondland quoting Trump to say the president wanted nothing from the Ukrainians and did not seek a quid pro quo.

“I want nothing, I want nothing,” insisted the president, who often exhorts Americans to “read the transcript” of the July phone call in which he appealed to Ukraine’s leader for “a favor”—the investigations.

He also distanced himself from his hand-picked ambassador, saying he didn’t know him “very well.” A month ago, he called Sondland “a really good man and a great American.”

The impeachment inquiry focuses significantly on allegations that Trump sought investigations of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son—and the discredited idea that Ukraine rather than Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. election—in return for the badly needed military aid for Ukraine and the White House visit.

In Moscow on Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he was pleased that the “political battles” in Washington had overtaken the Russia allegations, which are supported by the U.S. intelligence agencies.

“Thank God,” Putin said, “no one is accusing us of interfering in the U.S. elections anymore. Now they’re accusing Ukraine.”

Another hearing in the impeachment inquiry gaveled open Wednesday evening with Cooper, a Defense Department official who had raised concerns about the suspended Ukraine aid, and David Hale, the No. 3 official at the State Department.

Sondland said that conditions on any potential Ukraine meeting at the White House started as “generic” but that more items were “added to the menu including—Burisma and 2016 election meddling.” Burisma is the Ukrainian gas company where Biden’s son Hunter served on the board. And, he added, “the server,” the hacked Democratic computer system.

During questioning in the daylong session, Sondland said he didn’t know at the time that Burisma was linked to the Bidens but today knows “exactly what it means.” He and other diplomats didn’t want to work with Giuliani. But he and the others understood that Giuliani “was expressing the desires of the president of the United States, and we knew that these investigations were important to the president.”

He also came to understand that the military aid hinged on the investigations, though Trump never told him so directly.

Sondland, a wealthy hotelier, has emerged as a central figure in an intense week in the probe that is featuring nine witnesses testifying over three days.

The envoy appeared prepared to fend off scrutiny over the way his testimony has shifted in closed-door settings, saying “my memory has not been perfect.” He said the State Department left him without access to emails, call records and other documents he needed in the inquiry. Republicans called his account “the trifecta of unreliability.”

Still, he did produce new emails and text messages to bolster his assertion that others in the administration were aware of the investigations he was pursuing for Trump from Ukraine.

Sondland insisted, twice, that he was “adamantly opposed to any suspension of aid” for Ukraine. “I followed the directions of the president.”

The son of immigrants who he said escaped Europe during the Holocaust, Sondland described himself as a “lifelong Republican” who has worked with officials from both parties, including Biden.

Dubbed one of the “three amigos” pursuing Ukraine policy, Sondland disputed that they were running some sort of “rogue” operation outside official U.S. policy. He produced emails and texts showing he, former special envoy Kurt Volker and Energy Secretary Rick Perry kept Pompeo and others apprised of their activity. One message from Volker said, “Spoke w Rudy per guidance from S.” He said, “S means the secretary of state.”

Democratic Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff of California said, “The knowledge of this scheme was far and wide.”

Schiff warned Pompeo and other administration officials who are refusing to turn over documents and testimony to the committee “they do so at their own peril.” He said obstruction of Congress was included in articles of impeachment during Watergate.

The top Republican on the committee, Devin Nunes of California, decried the inquiry and told the ambassador, “Mr. Sondland, you are here to be smeared.”

Nunes renewed his demand to hear from the still-anonymous whistleblower whose complaint about Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy led the House to open the impeachment inquiry.

Sondland’s hours of testimony didn’t appear to sway Trump’s GOP allies in the Senate, who would ultimately be jurors in an impeachment trial.

Mike Braun of Indiana said the president’s actions “may not be appropriate, but this is the question: Does it rise to the level of impeachment? And it’s a totally different issue, and none of this has.”

“I’m pretty certain that’s what most of my cohorts in the Senate are thinking, and I know that’s what Hoosiers are thinking—and most of middle America.”