Former area lawmaker faces federal charges
For the Gazette
MADISON – A former area lawmaker is the subject of a federal investigation alleging fraud, environmental misconduct, and tax evasion.
Kevin Shibilski, a one-time member of the state Senate representing portions of central Wisconsin, was charged on Sept. 9 with fraud and with storing and disposing hazardous electronic waste without the proper permits, in his role as the CEO of 5-R Processors, based in Ladysmith.
A federal grand jury indictment alleges the 59-year-old Shibilski illegally stored and disposed of broken and crushed glass from lead-based tubes used to display images in televisions and computer monitors at facilities in Wisconsin and Tennessee.
The indictment also charges Shibilski with eight counts of wire fraud for taking in nearly $6 million from clients, but failing to recycle more than eight-million pounds of their crushed glass from those tubes, and instead stockpiling it at 5-R warehouse facilities in Wisconsin and Tennessee. Shibilski is also charged with conspiracy to defraud the U.S. by failing to pay more than $850,000 in employment and income taxes for 5-R and its associated entities.
In a lawsuit filed in July, Shibilski says he’s the victim and not the perpetrator. He sued his former business partners claiming they used false records to lure investors, including himself. His attorney, Mark Belongia, says the former state senator was “duped” into investing in 5-R. Shibilski’s lawsuit alleges fraud and conspiracy against James Moss, Scott Von Haden, Bonita Dennee, Thomas Drake, Michelle McCrea, and Ladysmith Federal Savings and Loan. The lawsuit states that Shibilski’s former partners started a competing company that stole 5-R’s assets, including cash, equipment, confidential company data, and customer lists. Drake, Moss and Dennee have already entered into plea agreements with federal prosecutors.
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 of 2003 amid speculation he was pressured by Doyle to leave over a link to an attack ad in the election for his senate successor. Shibilski denied he was pressured to leave or that he was connected to the ad.
Shibilski served in the state’s 24th Senate district from 1995 to 2002, and previously served as the Portage County register of deeds and on the Portage County Board of Supervisors.