KENOSHA — The chairman of the Kenosha County Board has been charged with felony theft after allegedly taking three containers of silicone roof coating, valued at $627, from a local home improvement store.
Charges were filed Nov. 8 against County Board Chairman Daniel Esposito.
The case was referred to the Walworth County district attorney’s office for review to avoid a conflict of interest — a move typical when an elected or public official is the focus of potential criminal charges.
Walworth County District Attorney Zeke Wiedenfeld filed the charges.
According to court records, Esposito was charged with one count of retail theft, a felony, for intentionally taking merchandise worth between $500 and $5,000.
If he is found guilty, the felony is punishable by up to 3½ years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both imprisonment and a fine.
As a Class I felony, it is the least severe felony offense in Wisconsin.
According to the criminal complaint, the theft occurred at about 10:40 a.m. Nov. 2 at Menards, 7330 74th Place.
A loss prevention employee at the store told Kenosha police that a man was observed loading three containers of Seal Best white silicone roof coating into a truck along with multiple insulation items.
Esposito allegedly loaded the three 4.75-gallon containers of Seal Best in the truck and placed the insulation materials on top of them. He then allegedly exited the store’s materials yard through the guard gate without having paid for the Seal Best, which was valued at $209 per container.
The employee told police that store records indicated that Esposito paid for several insulation items that day, but not the Seal Best.
Police said store surveillance video showed that the Seal Best containers were not visible underneath the other insulation materials.
Police then went to Esposito’s home in Pleasant Prairie, where they asked him about the Seal Best containers. The complaint says Esposito admitted to being at Menards that day, where he bought only insulation and plywood.
When asked about the Seal Best, Esposito reportedly said he did take the containers, but that he had paid for them.
The complaint says Esposito was unable to produce a receipt for the Seal Best.
Esposito was booked into the Kenosha County Jail on Nov. 2, but Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth made the decision to release Esposito without bond, his release paperwork stating that he would be charged via summons and complaint.
Esposito’s attorney, Terry Rose, who also serves on the county board, has said that Esposito would plead not guilty to any criminal charges.
Court records did not indicate a plea for Esposito or any scheduled court appearances.
Esposito was elected to the county board in 2010 in what was then the 20th District. After redistricting, he now represents the 16th District.
He was county board vice chairman from 2016 through 2018, and became chairman in April 2018. His term as chairman runs through 2020. He is a chiropractor with a practice in Kenosha.
After Esposito was arrested Nov. 2, Kenosha Police Chief Daniel Miskinis issued a statement, saying that an officer found probable cause to believe Esposito committed felony retail theft.
In his statement, Miskinis did not name the retailer, but said the value of the items allegedly taken was $627, above the $500 threshold for a felony.
“Mr. Esposito was booked into the Kenosha County Jail to be held for a court appearance on Monday, Nov. 4, 2019. The Kenosha Police Department was not involved in any way in his release prior to the court appearance and in fact was not aware of the release until he was no longer in custody,” Miskinis stated.