CRIME AND COURT ROUNDUP: Coloma man to spend 10 years in prison for reckless homicide
A central Wisconsin man will spend ten years in prison for supplying the heroin that killed another man in Marathon County. Thirty-one year old Lucas Zuehlke of Coloma struck a plea deal this week. It convicted him of reckless homicide in the death of 30-year-old Thomas Knickerbocker in March of last year. Four other drug-related counts were dropped. Zuehlke must also spend ten years under extended supervision and pay 57-hundred dollars in restitution. Police said Zuehlke sold 100-dollars of high-grade heroin to Knickerbocker's girlfriend, who then reportedly gave the drug to the victim. He was later found dead by his young daughter. The girlfriend, 34-year-old Nycole Creed of Wausau, is due in court next Tuesday. A status conference will take place on her current charges of delivering heroin and felony bail jumping.
The state Justice Department says there is no "root problem" with the program that fights Internet crimes against children. That's after a Milwaukee justice supervisor was let go, and one of his former agents quit, when they got behind on over three dozen child pornography investigations. A special task force worked from March until June to catch up with those cases. Yesterday, the ex-Justice supervisor -- Willie Brantley -- settled a complaint he filed with the state Employment Relations Commission, which claimed he was wrongly terminated. He'll get 75-hundred dollars to cover part of his legal fees. His release will officially be classified as a retirement, so he can get unused vacation money, and unused sick leave to help pay for his health coverage. Also, the settlement called on Attorney General J-B Van Hollen to apologize for calling Brantley a "rogue employee" in media interviews. Van Hollen issued a statement yesterday that he regretted the term. He also used the same words for the other agent involved, Anna King -- but the apology does not apply to her.
A former official of a Milwaukee aerospace firm has filed a lawsuit which accuses the company of over-billing the military by almost 50-million dollars for aircraft parts. Mary Patzer of Derco Aerospace said she tried taking her concerns about the alleged scheme to a manager of her parent firm in 2010 -- and she was later terminated due to a "reduction in force." She filed her whistle-blower suit in 2011, but it was sealed until Milwaukee Federal Judge Rudolph Randa released it this week. Patzer's attorney, Nola Hitchcock Cross, said the false billing to the Pentagon went back to at least mid-2006. If Patzer wins her suit, the attorney said the government would be entitled for triple damages, plus penalties for each false payment received by Derco. Hitchcock Cross said the total damages could be up to 150-million dollars -- and it might be the largest whistle-bloweer suit ever filed in Wisconsin under the federal False Claims Act. For blowing the whistle, Patzer could get up to 25-percent of anything Derco's parent firm, Sikorsky Aircraft, might have to pay back. Sikorsky says the lawsuit has no merit, and the firm will fight it.
Wausau prosecutors have asked that a 16-year-old girl be found delinquent in the deaths of two young girls in an S-U-V crash. The girl appeared in Marathon County juvenile court yesterday. The district attorney's office asked for a change of venue, because all of the county's judges know the suspect's grandparents. As a result, Oneida County Circuit Judge Michael Bloom was assigned to the case. Authorities said ten people jammed into an S-U-V last Friday to go on a picnic at the Eau Claire Dells County Park. Their vehicle lost control and rolled over several times about 12 miles northeast of Wausau on Highway 52. Two 12-year-old girls -- Reighlee Stevenson and Deserae Landowski -- died in the crash. A boy who was critically injured had his condition upgraded to serious yesterday. The other seven youngsters were treated at hospitals and later released.
Police in suburban Milwaukee said a man shot himself to death before he could be arrested for firing other gunshots in an apartment building. It happened early last evening in West Allis. Police were called around 6:30, and were told that a man was firing a gun inside the housing complex. Officers ordered the 31-year-old shooter to leave an apartment -- and when he didn't, police went in and found him dead. No one else was hurt.
Bond was set at 200-thousand dollars yesterday for a Waukesha County boy accused of selling the heroin that killed another teen. Seventeen-year-old Alexander Leisten of Oconomowoc is charged as an adult with first-degree reckless homicide. Prosecutors listed conflicting reports over the drug deal that was involved. Leisten is accused of selling the heroin that was blamed for Archie Badura's death. The 19-year-old Badura was found unresponsive at his parents' home in May. Leisten waived the state's time limits for his preliminary hearing. He's due back in court a week from tomorrow.
A 33-year-old man was murdered in Milwaukee last night. Police said he was shot on a north side business street just after 8:30. He ran into a nearby convenience store, where he collapsed and died. Police are still trying to determine what led to the shooting.