Five charged in state GOP tire slashing in November

Congresswoman Gwen Moore's son and former acting Mayor Marvin Pratt's son appeared in court Monday alongside three other individuals charged with slashing the tires of vans rented by the Wisconsin Republican Party last November.

Moore's son, Sowande Omokunde, Pratt's son, Michael Pratt, Lewis Caldwell, Lavelle Mohammad and Justin Howell appeared for their arraignment and Judge John Valenti set bail at $1,000 for each of them. The criminal complaint alleges they damaged 40 tires on 25 rented vans Nov. 2. Valenti said the court found probable cause they committed the crime.

Omokunde's lawyer argued for the charges to be dismissed. He said the vans did not belong to the Republican Party but were rented. Therefore, the five individuals' actions were not politically motivated. However, the district attorney said his interpretation of the technicality is inaccurate because an item may have several owners as in the case of renters and landlords.

Although Moore appeared in court with her son, she did not provide a comment on the outcome of the case and said she needed to catch a plane to Washington D. C.

The plaintiffs were each charged with one count of criminal damage to property and one count of being party to a crime. If convicted, they face up to three and a half years in prison and at most a $10,000 fine.

Their preliminary hearing is set for Tuesday at 1:30 p.m.

This article appeared in The Marquette Tribune on Jan. 25 2005.