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CRIME AND COURT ROUNDUP: Hilbert man pleads no contest to two counts of negligent homicide

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news Ellsworth, 54011
Ellsworth Wisconsin 126 S. Chestnut St. 54011

A 26-year-old man could spend more than 30 years in prison, for driving his car into 10 motorcycles near Fond du Lac and killing two of those bikers. Clinton Lovelace of Hilbert struck a plea deal in which he pleaded no contest yesterday to two felony charges of negligent homicide. He also entered Alford pleas to three counts of reckless injury, refusing to admit guilt but agreeing there was enough evidence to convict him. Seven other felony counts were dropped. The crash happened May 31st of last year. Authorities said Lovelace was driving south on the two-lane Highway 151 north of Fond du Lac, when he crossed the center line and hit all but two of the dozen motorcycles coming his way. Douglas Yonkers and Daniel Winsemius were killed. Eight other riders were hurt. They were heading home to Muskegon Michigan from a Bridge Run event in Milwaukee. Investigators said they found drug evidence on Lovelace, but he denied taking anything besides his two daily medications. More than 70 motorcyclists attended yesterday's court hearing. Tim Tomann of the ABATE motorcycle advocacy group said his members wanted to show support for the victims of what he called one of the "worst motorcycle crashes in history."

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It might be awhile -- if ever -- before we learn the details of a botched sting operation in Milwaukee by the U-S Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. Plea deals have been reached for all 26 defendants still facing charges in the federal government's foiled effort to root out illegal gun buyers last year. That means there won't be any trials where evidence would come out. Sixteen people have pleaded guilty to various federal charges which netted them up to 12 years in prison. Eighteen others were charged at the state level. Eight of those cases were dropped. The wrong people were arrested in three of those cases. Ten other state defendants pleaded guilty. Last week, Milwaukee County prosecutor Karen Loebel said she was not allowed to bring in the operation's leading A-T-F agent as a witness in two of the cases. Karen Loebel said she could not disclose why she couldn't make Special Agent Jacqueline Sutton testify. The botched case was called "Operation Fearless" where the A-T-F sent up a fake storefront in a Milwaukee neighborhood designed to catch gun criminals. The place was burglarized, and 40-thousand-dollars in merchandise was stolen. An A-T-F agent's machine gun remains missing. Top A-T-F officials are investigating, along with the Justice Department's inspector general.

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Heroin abuse is a problem in all of Wisconsin -- and officials hope to convince you of that during a public awareness campaign that begins today. State Attorney General J-B Van Hollen will hold a news conference in Madison with that city's police-and-fire chiefs and the Dane County sheriff. They'll highlight the impact of heroin use in the Madison area. Similar news conferences are planned for tomorrow in Wausau, Eau Claire, Appleton, and Sheboygan. Marathon County sheriff's official Gary Schneck said in May that more drug abusers in central Wisconsin have turned to heroin. He said it was after drug-makers added time-release coatings to painkillers like Oxycontin, to try-and-cut down on their abuse. In late June, Van Hollen said the new awareness campaign would be coupled with grants to local law enforcement to fight heroin abuse. At that time, he said there's no simple solution to fight the increase in heroin use -- and the state's approaching it from every angle it can.

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A registered sex offender has pleaded innocent to what authorities call one of Wisconsin's worst-ever child pornography cases. 46-year-old Timmy Reichling of rural Darlington -- who registered previously as a sex offender -- is accused of having millions of pornographic images in numerous computer storage devices. Reichling was arraigned yesterday in Lafayette County on 11 felony charges that include child sexploitation, child porn possession, and being a sex offender who photographed minors without their permission. A 13-year-old girl went to authorities, saying that Reichling asked her to send him nude photos and threatened to show them to her family when she wanted to stop. The defense has asked for a new judge in the case, to replace Lafayette County Circuit Judge William Johnston.

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A Fond du Lac County man has pleaded guilty to killing a couple from Eden in a drunk driving crash. 25-year-old Daniel Shea of Campbellsport was convicted yesterday on two counts of drunken homicide. A third count of causing injury by O-W-I was dropped in a plea deal. Shea is scheduled to be sentenced January second. Prosecutors say they'll seek a prison term of up to 10 years. Authorities said Shea had seven drinks and two shots of whiskey at five taverns, in the hours before his car crossed a center line on Highway 45 and hit an oncoming auto. He told officers he might have been texting at the time -- he never saw a vehicle coming -- and all he heard was a loud crash. 73-year-old Paul Grahl and his 59-year-old wife Joanna, both of Eden, were killed. Their teenage daughter Esther was seriously hurt. Officials said Shea's blood alcohol level was almost at point-22 over two hours after the crash. That was almost three times the legal limit.

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