Brenda Council agrees to temporary suspension of her law license -
Published Tuesday, September 24, 2013 at 1:00 am / Updated at 1:33 am
Brenda Council agrees to temporary suspension of her law license

LINCOLN — Former State Sen. Brenda Council of Omaha agreed Monday to a temporary suspension of her law license.

The suspension, if approved by the Nebraska Supreme Court, would be the latest fallout from her use of campaign dollars for casino gambling.

Ten days ago, she pleaded guilty to a federal wire fraud charge involving her misuse of campaign funds. Sentencing on the charge is set for Dec. 5.

Wire fraud is a felony that can carry a sentence of up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Under the terms of a plea deal, federal prosecutors agreed to recommend probation for Council. Terms of the probation will be up to the judge.

The felony plea prompted a review of the case by the Supreme Court's Counsel for Discipline. The counsel filed a motion Friday seeking a suspension of her license while disciplinary proceedings are under way.

The Counsel for Discipline had started those proceedings in April by filing formal charges against her license based on two misdemeanor convictions in state court.

The April charges allege that she committed professional misconduct by using campaign dollars for her personal benefit and by trying to conceal that use in filing false campaign statements.

The charges also allege that her public records convictions violate the legal ethics code.

It will be up to the state's high court to decide whether to disbar Council, suspend her law license or take lesser disciplinary steps.

Her attorney, Vince Powers of Lincoln, said he believes a suspension would be sufficient, given Council's record of public service.

Council's problems stem from her use of more than $63,000 of her campaign funds at casinos over 2 ½ years.

The misuse of the campaign funds came to light last year, when Attorney General Jon Bruning filed two abuse-of-public-records charges in Lancaster County Court.

Those counts involved her failure to report withdrawals and deposits related to the casino spending on her last two campaign finance reports.

Council pleaded guilty to the misdemeanors and paid $500 in fines.

She was charged in federal court with wire fraud because she used a debit card at out-of-state casinos.

Contact the writer: Martha Stoddard    |   402-473-9583    |  

Martha covers the Nebraska Legislature, the governor, state agencies, and health, education and budget issues out of our Lincoln bureau.

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