Thomas Bielinski, 52, was charged in August with a scheme stretching back years in which he purported to represent the rightful owners of unclaimed funds kept by the Milwaukee County clerk of circuit court's office. He was charged with theft by fraud of more than $542,000.
Bielinski has been jailed on $1 million bail since his arrest in December, after he failed to appear in court for a scheduled plea hearing that month.
On Wednesday, he quietly answered Milwaukee County Circuit Judge J.D. Watts' questions about knowingly and willingly giving up his right to a trial, and admitted to all seven elements of the charged offense, theft by fraud, greater than $10,000. For the purpose of the hearing, Bielinski admitted to facts involving a single case in which he obtained $10,150.
Bielinski, wearing orange jail clothing, said little else. He did acknowledge that, for now, he remains a licensed attorney in Wisconsin. His attorney, Michael F. Hart, said after the hearing that Bielinski may voluntarily give up his bar membership now that he's convicted of a felony.
The state will seek restitution for the full $540,000 it says Bielinski stole over the five-year course of the scheme.
He faces up to five years in prison at his sentencing April 4.>
Originally published on http://www.jsonline.com/blogs/news/139981803.html