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Former Milwaukee County Register of Deeds Charged with Wire Fraud
press release, United States Department of Justice

United States Attorney Matthew D. Krueger announced that, on June 25, 2020, he issued a one-count information charging John La Fave (age: 70) with wire fraud in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343, and that La Fave has entered into an agreement to plead guilty to the charge.

According to the information, La Fave, who was the Milwaukee County Register of Deeds, devised and executed a scheme to defraud Milwaukee County and to obtain money by means of materially false and fraudulent pretenses and representations. The scheme concerned La Fave’s dealings with “Individual A,” who worked for “Business A,” a company that provided redacting and document indexing services for Milwaukee County. The essence of the scheme was that La Fave directed Individual A to create fraudulent invoices that made it appear that Business A had done specified work for the Milwaukee County Register of Deeds Office when, as La Fave knew, Business A had not actually performed that work. As alleged, Business A would hold the money “on account” for La Fave to direct to be paid to other, third-party vendors who actually performed the work. Most of those third-party vendors were not authorized to be paid through the Milwaukee County accounts payable process, and some were employees of the Milwaukee County Register of Deeds Office.

United States Attorney Krueger commented, “My office will not hesitate to prosecute public officials who abuse their positions of trust.”

If convicted, La Fave faces a maximum of 20 years of imprisonment, a maximum fine of $250,000, and up to three years of supervised release.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office, and the Office of the Comptroller-Milwaukee County Audit Services Division investigated the case. It will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Greg Haanstad and William Lipscomb.

An information is only a charging document, and is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

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