The former long-time mayor in a south side Milwaukee suburb is being investigated by the state Department of Justice for felony forgery.
Former Cudahy Mayor John Hohenfeldt has admitted to sending an email using the fake name, John Smith, to the Wisconsin Ethics Commission and Wisconsin Elections Commission to file a complaint against three candidates following the April 2 election.
The email was regarding Cudahy’s new mayor, Tom Pavlick, alderman Scott Mulqueen and Arnold Naqellari, who ran for alderman.
Hohenfeldt said the three failed to put the words "Authorized and paid for" on their campaign signs.
In a signed confession, dated April 15 and obtained by Wisconsin Public Radio, Hohenfeldt said he knew the candidates were part of the group Cudahy Citizens Supporting Change, which was organized by his long-time rival Greg Loferski.
"Mr. Loferski’s political action committee began putting flyers on doors continuing to professionally and personally slander me," Hohenfeldt wrote. "My anger and sense of injustice got the better of me."
After receiving the original email, the Elections Commissions asked Hohenfeldt to file an official complaint with the Ethics Commission. Hohenfeldt said he did, still using the name John Smith. He also used a notary stamp, taken from a city employee’s desk. Hohenfeldt said he then sent signed and falsely notarized documents along with pictures he took of the signs using the fake name and a fake email address to the state agency.
"The consequences of my action are at this point unknown, but I certainly agree that for a person who has misused access to a notary stamp there should be consequences," Hohenfeldt’s letter reads.
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Hohenfeldt’s attorney, Michael Hayes, with Hayes & Rothstein, said the DOJ is reviewing the case, but hasn't filed any charges at this time. Hayes wouldn't answer further questions.
A spokesman with the Ethics Commission said the agency couldn't comment on the matter. The DOJ didn't return emails.
Cudahy is located south of Milwaukee along Lake Michigan. The former factory town has about 18,000 residents.
Hohenfeldt served as mayor from 2004 to 2007 and again from 2013 to 2019. He said he decided not to seek re-election after several months of thought and consideration.
"The pressures of the job, the libel, slander and defamation of my character began to take a personal and professional toll on me as well as my family, friends and supporters," his letter said.
Naqellari said he is disappointed Hohenfeldt has not yet been charged with forgery.
"It’s kinda foolish to me because you’re about to get out of office and go live your happy life," Naqellari said. "You don’t have to deal with this any more if you don’t like it. And you just kinda ruined it all. But at the same time, you haven’t even been charged with anything."