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Reality Check: Business group attacks Kaul’s record as prosecutor

MADISON, Wis. – The advocacy arm of the state’s business group, Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, launched an ad this week that goes after the record of attorney and candidate for attorney general Josh Kaul when he was a federal prosecutor in Maryland. 

“In Baltimore, Josh Kaul went easy on dealers trafficking huge amounts of cocaine, heroin and opioids,” the announcer says in the ad. “One international kingpin facing life only got 10 years.”

News 3 finds this needs clarification. 

First, you should know that prosecutors don’t sentence offenders.  Prosecutors can make recommendations and agree to dismiss charges, reducing possible penalties, but ultimately the court decides on a sentence.  

In the case referred to in the ad from 2010, Kaul prosecuted James Bridgeforth, who was accused of smuggling heroin to Maryland from India and the Philippines.  Bridgeforth was charged with conspiracy to possess and distribute heroin and cocaine.  He pleaded guilty to the heroin part of that charge, a crime for which he faced a maximum of life in prison or a minimum of 10 years. As part of the agreement, Kaul recommended 10 years in prison and a judge agreed

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“And Kaul went soft on another kingpin who trafficked 45,000 doses of opioids,” the announcer says in the ad. 

News 3 finds this also needs clarification. 

This case was about David Graham, a 63-year-old Maryland man who was accused of organizing a drug ring, paying people to get large prescriptions of opioids from doctors’ offices, buying the pills and reselling them to users.  Graham was charged with two counts of conspiracy to possess and distribute multiple drugs.  He pleaded guilty to one count and the other was dismissed as part of a plea deal, and Kaul was part of the team prosecuting Graham. 

Graham was facing a maximum of 20 years in prison.  It’s unclear what the prosecutors recommended here and Kaul’s campaign says he cannot comment on sentencing — but Graham got eight years in prison.  For reference, his co-conspirator didn’t take a deal, was convicted at trial and  was sentenced to 10 years. 

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