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Prosecutor’s tab in Daniel case tops $180K

Charges against Fort Dodge casino backer dropped Sept. 27

October 2, 2012
By BILL SHEA ( , Messenger News

The price tag for a special prosecutor's probe of a campaign contribution made by a Fort Dodge casino advocate totaled more than $180,000 over two years.

The investigation by Special Prosecutor Lawrence Scalise has cost $181,517.61 so far, according to figures provided by GeorgAnna Madsen, the executive secretary for the Iowa Executive Council. That council consists of the governor, the state treasurer, the secretary of agriculture, the state auditor and the secretary of state.

Peninsula Gaming, of Dubuque, was to pay the costs of the prosecution after charges against the firm were dismissed last year. However, figures showing how much that firm has paid were unavailable.

That company had been selected to run the proposed Diamond Jo Fort Dodge casino if the needed license had been obtained.

In 2010, the Iowa Executive Council appointed Scalise to investigate a campaign contribution Steve Daniel, of Fort Dodge, made to former Gov. Chet Culver's re-election campaign.

Two years later, the probe wrapped up without anyone being convicted of making an illegal campaign contribution.

The charges against Daniel - making a campaign contribution in the name of another and willful failure to disclose a campaign contribution - were dismissed.

The organization he led, Webster County Entertainment, entered an Alford plea to a simple misdemeanor of accessory after the fact and was fined $100.

Curtis Beason, a Davenport attorney specializing in gaming law who was advising the local casino planners, entered an Alford plea to interference with official acts and received a deferred judgment that placed him on probation.

An Alford plea occurs when a defendant does not specifically admit guilt but consents to the court entering a guilty plea because they feel it is in their best interest to avoid going to trial.

State Rep. Helen Miller, D-Fort Dodge, described the cost of the case as ''unbelievable.''

''What a waste of taxpayers' money'' she said Monday afternoon.

Miller, who has a law degree, said she has never encountered a case in which a former defendant has agreed to pay the costs of a prosecution.

''What kind of deal is that?'' she said. ''I've never heard of anything like that.''

Her opponent in House District 9, Republican Matt Alcazar, of Fort Dodge, called the payment deal ''odd in my opinion.''

''There are several things that are strange about this case,'' he said.

Alcazar said the $181,517.61 figure is irrelevant since it is probably not the final cost of the investigation.

He added that Scalise charged $80 an hour, which he said is not excessive for attorneys.



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