Special prosecutor won't file charges against Schmitt in Northland complaint

Mayor Jim Schmitt presides over a city council meeting (WBAY file photo)

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - A special prosecutor is declining to file charges against former Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt in response to a complaint accusing Schmitt of misconduct during the Hotel Northland project.

Fond du Lac County District Attorney Eric Toney served as the special prosecutor. The Brown County District Attorney's Office handed the investigation over to Toney to avoid conflict of interest.

In the complaint, former Green Bay alderman Guy Zima accused Schmitt of perjury and an ongoing intent to deceive. Zima said Schmitt committed fraud, and violated the public trust.

"The analysis of the truth of the allegations regarding Mayor Schmitt's actions need not occur because after a review of documents, contracts and interviews with former Mayor Schmitt and former councilman Guy Zima have shown no evidence to support charges of perjury or misconduct in public office that could be proven beyond a reasonable doubt," says prosecutor Eric Toney.

Zima alleged that Schmitt attempted to get a $500,000 loan for the hotel project to buy out one of the two partners. Schmitt said the loan was needed to pay workers and keep the renovation project alive. The hotel project was plagued by delays and lawsuits, but the loan never came to fruition.

"The truth of the why the $500,000 loan was requested was immaterial to whether perjury or misconduct in public office was committed or attempted because in either version a crime couldn't be proven beyond a reasonable doubt and if a crime were committed Privilege would apply," Toney says.

Toney says no statements made by the then-Mayor happened in a court proceeding or under oath. That means there was no perjury.

Zima also made the claim that more than $3 million was "improperly diverted" from one account to another account.

"There is no evidence to suggest this money was improperly spent or was missing," Toney says.

Also, Toney will not file any charges in regards to a complaint about an alleged open meetings violation that happened when some members of the council held an impromptu press conference to make accusations against the then-mayor. The complaint stated that five council members acted in their official capacity and engaged in a "walking quorum."

"Some of the the participants at the press conference are no longer members of the City Council and I am not making a finding of an open meetings violation," Toney says.

The Hotel Northland opened on Feb. 14.

Schmitt did not run for re-election in 2019. He served as Green Bay mayor for 16 years. .