Suspecting a bribe, Milwaukee panel rejects liquor license

Jim Witkowiak – the former Milwaukee alderman who runs a large local funeral home – is used to burying bodies.

On Tuesday, he dug up some old skeletons.

In stunning testimony before a Common Council committee, Witkowiak said a local businessman offered him a $2,500 bribe in early 2011 to help clear the way for a liquor store near Witkowiak’s district on the city’s south side.

“Wow,” said Ald. Tony Zielinski, chairman of the city Licenses Committee. “I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.”

Witkowiak, who lost his seat last year, told the City Hall audience that he immediately alerted the FBI after receiving the large envelope with 25 $100 bills. Three agents then recorded a conversation between the alderman and the businessman, Inderjeet Dhillon.

“The FBI agents instructed me to ask Mr. Dhillon what the $2,500 was for,” said Witkowiak, who spent 16 years on the Common Council. “I asked Mr. Dhillon that question, and he replied that it was for me.

“I replied, ‘Fine, I understand that, but what is the purpose of this money?’ Mr. Dhillon replied, ‘So you can help me get my liquor license at my store on 6th St. and Becher.’ ”

Officials with the Milwaukee office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation did not return calls on Tuesday afternoon. Sources suggested that the probe is ongoing.

Via Bice @ Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

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