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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Wisconsin

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, January 24, 2020

Former Attorney Charged with Fraud for Falsely Representing to Client that Assistant United States Attorney had Agreed to Accept a Bribe in Exchange for Securing a Reduced Sentence for Client

United States Attorney Matthew D. Krueger of the Eastern District of Wisconsin announced on January 23, 2020, that former attorney Mark A. Ruppelt (age: 50) was charged in a three-count information with devising and executing a scheme to defraud his client, in violation of the federal wire fraud statute.

The information alleges that Ruppelt’s scheme was to obtain money from his client by falsely claiming he had arranged to pay a bribe to an Assistant United States Attorney (“AUSA”) and other officials, in exchange for their assistance in obtaining a sentence reduction for the client.  In fact, none of those officials were aware of Ruppelt’s representations to his client, and none had been offered or agreed to accept a bribe.

According to the information, Ruppelt asked for, and received, a total of $30,000 from his client.  In a series of phone conversations, Ruppelt, among other things:

  • falsely told his client that a specific AUSA was willing to accept a bribe;
  • falsely told his client that the $30,000 would “100% secure” the AUSA’s assistance in obtaining a sentence reduction;
  • falsely told his client that Ruppelt had already “taken care of” bribing a probation officer and only had to finish paying the AUSA;
  • put the client off by falsely telling the client that the AUSA, while still on board with accepting the bribe, wanted to wait several weeks so that the political climate was more conducive to getting away with the bribe arrangement; and
  • attempted to conceal his scheme by directing his client to avoid “putting anything in writing,” explaining that “there can’t be any trace of this.”

If convicted, Ruppelt faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years, a maximum term of three years of supervised release, and a maximum fine of $250,000. 

An information is a formal method of charging an individual with a criminal offense.  The charges contained in the information are merely allegations and are not evidence of guilt.  The defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government must prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Gregory J. Haanstad.

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Updated January 24, 2020