December 22, 2009

Becker admits to child enticement, attempted sex assault of child; former Racine mayor looking at 45 years in prison

A fairly empty courtroom for a high-profile hearing

Former Racine Mayor Gary Becker could receive 45 years in prison after pleading guilty Tuesday to one count of child enticement and one count of attempted sexual assault of a child.

Becker appeared before Judge Stephen Simanek to change his not guilty plea to guilty on the two felony charges. In exchange for the plea, District Attorney Mike Nieskes agreed to dismiss six felony counts against Becker, including possession of child pornography and misconduct in public office.

Gary Becker and his attorney, Pat Cafferty, watch DA Mike Nieskes

Becker was arrested Jan. 13 at Brookfield Square Mall after attempting to rendezvous with a 14-year-old girl he met in an Internet chat room. The "girl" turned out to be a state agent who lured Becker to the mall and busted him. The arrest brought national attention to Racine, abruptly ended Becker's second term as Racine mayor and led to his wife divorcing him.

With the guilty pleas, Becker could be sentenced to 20 years in prison for the attempted sexual assault and 25 years for child enticement. Simanek is scheduled to sentence Becker on March 3. Becker remains free on parole bond pending sentencing.

Following the hearing, Nieskes, left, said he was happy with the plea and would recommend prison time for Becker.

"He has 45 years of possible exposure," he said. "I think that is adequate."

The surface of Tuesday's hearing was mundane. Becker appeared with his attorney, Patrick Cafferty, and Nieskes appeared as the lone representative of the DA's office.

Simanek ran through a series of procedures to ensure Becker understood what he was admitting to and that there would be no trial. Becker answered most questions with, "Yes, your honor."

Attention now turns to the sentencing hearing, where Becker could receive anything from 45 years in prison to probation, depending on Simanek's ruling.

The sentencing hearing will be a mini-trial in itself. Nieskes said he intended to introduce into court further evidence of Becker's online habits, including child pornography and additional online chats.

Nieskes also laid out a potential strategy for Becker to argue for a lesser sentence. He asked the court to require Cafferty to provide any of Becker's medical records he intended to enter at sentencing. The records would include any findings of the doctors at the Philadelphia clinic where Becker was treated for sex addiction.

Judge Stephen Simanek

Ostensibly, Cafferty could argue Becker was suffering from a medical condition at the time of his arrest and should, because of treatment, receive a lesser sentence.

Nieskes said he was satisfied with the plea deal because Becker plead "guilty" instead of "no contest" to the charges. While it's something a semantic difference, Nieskes said Becker's plea means he accepts responsibility for his actions.

If he plead no contest, Nieskes said, it would mean the prosecution could prove its case, but he wasn't actually admitting to the crimes. Tuesday's hearing means Becker admitted to the crime and will now be sentenced for it.

District Attorney Mike Nieskes answering reporters' questions after the hearing


  1. "He has 45 years of possible exposure," he said. "I think that is adequate."

    I'm sure that threat of 45 years will ruin the rest of his life if he gets six months.

  2. Was the courtroom inside an Orange Julius?

  3. I am please to be wrong that he would walk. Becker will not hold public office again even if he services probation.
    I do hope he gets the help he needs and moves far away from any contact with young girls. May Becker find forgives from God.

  4. I found a forgive in my backyard.

  5. Michael Kroes12/22/2009 6:28 PM

    JT is reporting 25 years prison time maximum. Each count carrys (acording to the JT) 10 years of additional supervision. This is contrary to what the Racine Post is reporting. Which news source should I believe?

  6. Mike-

    The charges are split into prison time and extended supervision, which can become prison time. The attempted sexual assault charge is 10 years in prison and 10 years of supervision; the enticement charge is 15 years in prison and 10 years of supervision.

    Becker could receive a maximum of 45 years in prison, but it's highly unlikely.

    The JT's 25-year number is based on the total amount of prison time he could get up front; it doesn't include the 20 years of supervision also allowed under the law.

    To be honest, both numbers are irrelevant because few suspects get the maximum sentence. It's more to give an idea of the severity of the charges. In this case, it's safe to say the charges are pretty severe.

  7. L8man-

    It was more of a JT orange.

  8. The judge promised to knock off 5 more years, because Becker had a shave, haircut and a bath before the hearing.

  9. It always seems so senseless to me to knock off a bunch of felonies so the defendant pleads to one or two felonies then ALSO give him a lighter sentence on the plea. Then again, Becker knows far too much about too many people in Racine to do too much time.

  10. I think the possible sentence is far too light. I think they should castrate the bastard and give him life without parole. The same should be given to anyone who preys on children. Death is too good for him.

  11. What will happen to his new lady, Dr. Robin Knodel (Mrs.)?