Chantia Lewis Goes To Court
In her first court appearance alderwoman pleads not guilty to misdemeanor. Four felony charges yet to come.
Alderwoman Chantia Lewis made her first appearance in court Wednesday noon. She faces four felony charges, including misconduct in public office, embezzlement and falsifying campaign finance reports, and one misdemeanor, theft by fraud. A complaint filed by the District Attorney’s office says she defrauded the City of Milwaukee and campaign donors of $21,666.70.
She pled not guilty to the misdemeanor. A preliminary hearing, set for Oct. 18, will determine probable cause for the felony charges.
The largest charge carries a $25,000 fine and up to 10 years in jail.
Assistant district attorney Matthew Westphal appeared as the prosecutor for Milwaukee County. The case has been assigned to Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Danielle Shelton. Lewis appeared Wednesday before court commissioner David Sweet.
In advance of the hearing, she was briefly booked into jail Saturday.
Lewis is free on a $1,000 signature bond. A condition of the bond is a no-contact order with the individuals from whom she is accused of depositing campaign contributions directly into her personal account. They include Martha Love, a prominent local Democrat, and Inderjeet Dhillon, gas station owner.
The investigation, according to the complaint, started with a May 2020 review of multiple council members’ travel expenses and campaign finance disclosures.
“A review of the documents for all of the alderpersons showed material inconsistencies in Lewis’s filings as well as in her reimbursement for city approved travel. In particular, they showed that Lewis had received reimbursement from the City of Milwaukee for travel, which travel she then paid for out of her campaign account, Chantia 4 Progress, keeping the reimbursement for herself,” says the complaint.
Lewis, 41, was first elected to the Milwaukee Common Council in 2016 and re-elected in 2020. An Air Force veteran, Alverno College graduate and ordained minister, Lewis had branded the far northwest side 9th District she represents the “New Ninth” as she sought to reinvigorate the commercial area around the former Northridge Mall.
She also used her campaign funds, according to the complaint, to pay for family trips to Marietta, GA and Wisconsin Dells. While in the Dells she made three withdrawals from her campaign account at an ATM in an outlet mall. Lewis is married with three children.
In a statement issued by a prior legal team, Lewis described the issues as “accounting errors.”
Lewis filed for bankruptcy in 2005 and 2008. The alderwoman filed to run for U.S. Senate in July, the ninth candidate to formally enter the Democratic primary.
The alderwoman has been removed from all Common Council committee assignments by president Cavalier Johnson. But Lewis did appear and vote at last Tuesday’s full council meeting.
In an interview following the meeting, Johnson said that she is innocent until proven guilty and it is important that she continues to represent the interests of her constituents.
A copy of the criminal complaint is available on Urban Milwaukee.
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- City Hall: Chantia Lewis Case Moving Towards Trial - Jeramey Jannene - Oct 18th, 2021
- Chantia Lewis Goes To Court - Jeramey Jannene - Sep 29th, 2021
- City Hall: Ald. Chantia Lewis Charged With Defrauding City, Campaign of $21,000 - Jeramey Jannene - Sep 7th, 2021
Read more about Chantia Lewis charges here