Former Milwaukee Alderwoman Chantia Lewis sentenced to 30 days in jail, 3 years probation

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Former Milwaukee Alderwoman Chantia Lewis was sentenced for stealing money on Thursday, Aug. 25. 

A judge sentenced Lewis to 30 days in jail and three years probation after pleading guilty to misuse of campaign funds and misconduct while in office. 

Lewis was accused of defrauding her campaign for U.S. Senate, and stealing more than $20,000 from taxpayers. 

Lewis had faced a maximum $20,000 fine and up to seven years behind bars. 

Lewis was removed from office last month when she was convicted on two felony charges.

She pleaded guilty to misconduct in public office and no-contest to unlawful use of campaign funds.

With the 30 days in custody and three years probation, the court approved Huber work release, and the judge will allow house-arrest for the sentence if approved by the House of Correction. She will also have 50 hours of community service.

If Lewis violates probation, she could spend time in the state prison system.

She's ordered to report to custody on Sept. 12.

"This isn't just about stealing money. This is about violating public trust,” said the prosecuting lawyer, Matthew Westphal, representing the state.

Westphal began Lewis’ sentencing hearing by listing numerous instances of embezzlement and fraud from 2016 to 2020.

“She would claim reimbursement from the city for travel that had been paid by her campaign. Her campaign would pay for the travel, the city would reimburse her personally for the travel, and so she would be enriched by this,” Westphal said, "In two weeks of being elected into office, she was taking campaign contributions and depositing them into her personal depository accounts."

Lewis' lawyer argued against prison time, insinuating it was her ignorance that led to wrongdoing.

“This is a total absence of knowledge and relying among the wrong people, and her not understanding campaign finance laws,” said Michael Chernin, the defendant attorney.

During personal testimony, Lewis called her conviction the most traumatizing event of her life, while echoing her lawyer's stance.

“It has been absolutely an unequivocal bad judgement, bad decision making, and a mistake on my part. This is absolutely not something I did nefariously or with malice. I am just not that type of person,” Lewis said.

Judge Childs read letters of character from Lewis’ friends noting her public service. While he acknowledged her remorse, the judge criticized her disloyalty to the community.

“We do hold up individuals in public office to higher level than others, therefore we are held accountable. More is expected from us,” Judge Childs said.

After the hearing, one of Lewis’ family members briefly confronted her lawyer, agitated with his performance.

The court scheduled a restitution hearing for Oct. 7.

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