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RACINE — Former Racine Alder John Tate II is facing more than three years in prison for allegedly committing malfeasance in office.

Tate, 38, will appear Thursday, May 11, in Racine County Circuit Court to face a single felony count of having public interest in a private contract while holding public office. If convicted, he faces up to 3-1/2 years in prison and/or up to $10,000 in fines.

The criminal complaint: malfeasance in office

According to the criminal complaint, in his capacity as both an alder and president of the Racine Common Council, Tate in July 2022 voted to approve an American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) grant totaling $784,000. Some of the funds were to be used to create the position of a violence prevention coordinator (VICP) to help form Racine’s version of a Blueprint for Peace, a national effort to reduce violent crime in communities across the country.

Racine Alder John Tate II malfeasance in office
John Tate II – Credit: Facebook page for Tate

Tate also applied for the VICP position and was offered the job with a salary of nearly $102,000 and benefits. He was also offered a $10,000 forgivable loan as a city employee to purchase a home as long as the house was in the City of Racine, the complaint continues.

Tate said publicly he would resign his alder position as of November 2022 but chose instead to serve until the end of his term in April 2023, before starting his new job. The complaint alleges:

Throughout the time that the WI ARPA Grant money was granted to the City of Racine and the VICP was proposed and approved, John Tate II was a member of the Common Council and was acting as President. By applying for and negotiating the terms of his employment, he acted on behalf of his own pecuniary interest.

When Racine County Eye reached out to Tate for comment, he referred all questions to his attorney, Pat Cafferty. The law office responded Thursday with the following comment:

John Tate II intends to vigorously defend against the allegations filed against him in the criminal complaint. It is our position that Mr. Tate’s actions do not constitute a violation of the law. We will defend Mr. Tate using all available legal options and will do so within the confines of the court system. This case will be litigated within a court of law rather than the court of public opinion. Mr. Tate will appear in court shortly and aggressively confront the allegations.

Cafferty & Scheidegger, S.C., attorneys for John Tate II

Racine Mayor Cory Mason was also asked for comment, which we received on Thursday as well:

The City of Racine has a policy of not commenting on on-going court proceedings.

Maxwell Love, spokesperson for the Mayor’s office

The Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department conducted the investigation.

Racine County Eye will update this story as more details become available.

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