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Bayfield DA on trial in misconduct case

WASHBURN (AP) -- Suspended Bayfield County District Attorney Craig Haukaas testified as his trial began that he never agreed to drop charges against a man if that man left the state for three years.

WASHBURN (AP) -- Suspended Bayfield County District Attorney Craig Haukaas testified as his trial began that he never agreed to drop charges against a man if that man left the state for three years.

Haukaas went on trial Thursday on a felony count of misconduct in office and a misdemeanor of being a party to bail jumping regarding the case of Joseph Soulier.

Prosecutors allege that Haukaas agreed to a deal for Soulier to flee the state even though he was due in court in December 2003 for sentencing in a domestic battery case.

The agreement was made without the knowledge of Circuit Judge John Anderson and resulted in a bench warrant being issued for Soulier for bail jumping, prosecutors said.

In addition to the sentencing on misdemeanor battery charges, Soulier had been facing new charges of disorderly conduct and criminal damage to property.

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Haukaas allegedly agreed to quash all outstanding warrants against Soulier and dismiss pending charges if Soulier remained out of the state for 36 months.

Soulier, arrested later in Wisconsin, disclosed the arrangement to public defender Fred Bourg, who asked for the John Doe hearing that led to the charges against Haukaas, prosecutors said.

In opening statements, special prosecutor Guy Ludvigson said evidence would show Haukaas had conversations with Soulier's then-attorney, Joseph Crawford, about the agreement, but no one advised the judge about it.

''We seek to prove a deal existed between three people: Crawford, Soulier and Haukaas,'' Ludvigson said.

Defense lawyer Gene Linehan said evidence would show there was no agreement.

Bourg testified he became aware of the arrangement after Soulier was arrested in Ashland two years and eight months after he originally left the state.

''He told me the whole sequence of events,'' Bourg said. ''I didn't believe it. We don't do that.''

He said Haukaas then confirmed the story but said Soulier kept sneaking back into Wisconsin.

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''Now he's going to pay,'' Bourg said Haukaas told him.

After the prosecution rested, Haukaas took the stand and denied telling anyone Soulier could leave the state or that charges would be dropped if he did.

The trial was to resume Friday, with at least one other defense witness expected to testify.

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