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Judge won't move possible trials for Milwaukee cops accused of illegal searches

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Gavel & Stryker, made from Cherry & Ash, sold to Whitney Hoffman. By KeithBurtis (Flickr: Gavel & Stryker) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Gavel & Stryker, made from Cherry & Ash, sold to Whitney Hoffman. By KeithBurtis (Flickr: Gavel & Stryker) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

MILWAUKEE (WTAQ) - A judge in Milwaukee said Thursday he would not move possible trials for four city police officers accused of illegally strip searching criminal suspects.

Circuit Judge Jeffrey Wagner said he did not buy defense arguments that the heavy publicity in the case would prevent the defendants from getting fair trials.

Lawyer Michael Fitzgerald argued that the four defendants were, “held responsible for tarnishing the reputation of the entire police department, and they’ve been condemned by their own chief.”

Wagner said he would question jurors thoroughly to make sure they’re not biased.

Michael Vagnini, Jacob Knight, Brian Kolozek, and Jeffrey Dollhopf are charged with a total of 33 counts of illegal strip searches and misconduct. Vagnini is charged with 25 of those counts, and he would be tried to separately from the others.

Prosecutors said the other three were merely present in most of the instances in which Vagnini checked suspects’ cavities for illegal drugs.

Vagnini is scheduled to go on trial April 29th. The other three have possible trials in early June.

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