- Authorities seeking felony charges against Mayor Gary Becker say the 51-year-old married father of two, who ran unopposed for re-election two years ago, used the Internet to try to arrange a sexual liaison with what he thought was a teen girl.
Taken into custody at Brookfield Square mall Tuesday evening, Becker became one of the more than 475 people arrested by the state's 10-year-old Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.
By now, it is relatively widely known that investigators from the Division of Criminal Investigation pose as youths on the Internet, looking for adults who want to have sex with minors.
But according to a source familiar with the case, a criminal investigation of Becker was begun before Christmas after he brought a personal computer to City Hall and asked city workers to fix a problem with it.
Whatever the workers found was turned over to Racine police, who in turn passed it on to the state task force.
"It's tragic news for both the mayor and his family, and for the people of the city of Racine," said John Lehman, a Racine state representative and Democrat who served with Becker on the Racine Common Council. "It saddens people all over town."
Based on a statement from the state task force, Becker could face at least six charges, including child enticement, possession of child pornography, attempted second-degree sexual assault of a child and misconduct in public office.
Becker was booked into the Kenosha County Jail on Tuesday evening and was released Wednesday after a relative posted his $165,000 bail.
Becker's Racine lawyer, Patrick Cafferty, declined to comment other than to say he had not been given any investigation documents.