CRIME AND COURT ROUNDUP: Man arrested in Trempealeau after leading police on a high-speed chase
A 19-year-old western Wisconsin man is facing possible charges, for a high-speed chase in which he allegedly struck the pursuing officer's squad car twice. It happened late Saturday night in Trempealeau. Police said they tried stopping the driver for traffic violations, and he drove off. A pursuit continued at speeds up to 100-miles-an-hour. Three passengers in the vehicle jumped out during the incident. The driver ended up stopping voluntarily. No injuries were reported. The 19-year-old was arrested and taken to jail. The incident remains under investigation.
A man accused of breaking into the home of former Dodge County Sheriff Todd Nehls is jailed under a 300-thousand-dollar bond. Circuit Judge Steven Bauer ordered the high bond for 45-year-old Scott Schonitzer of Beaver Dam, even though it's his first criminal case. He was charged Friday with felony counts of armed burglary and theft, plus misdemeanor theft. They're all connected with last week's break-in at Nehls' home in Fox Lake, but District Attorney Kurt Klomberg told the judge that other break-ins may be tied to Schonitzer. There's been a rash of daytime burglaries at homes in the area. One occurred at a rental unit owned by former sheriff Nehls on the same day his home was entered. A review-and-motions' hearing is set for Wednesday. A preliminary hearing is scheduled Thursday, where a judge will decide if there's enough evidence to order a trial. Authorities said Schonitzer was caught in the act by Nehls' son, a Dodge County deputy. Online court records show no previous criminal charges against Schonitzer. Several financial judgments were listed, including four state tax warrants for up to 29-thousand dollars in unpaid taxes. They were paid in full. The former sheriff, meanwhile, said he used to wonder why people got so worked up when property was stolen from them. Now, Nehls says he understands the feeling of being violated -- and it might take a long time for his family to recover emotionally.
Over 100 diggers were ticketed this fall for illegally harvesting ginseng in Wisconsin since 2007. The D-N-R's Courtney Ripp started a year-long investigation, after she noticed quirks in the harvesting records that the diggers submit to her agency. The state issues about a-thousand licenses each year for people to dig ginseng in the wild in September and October. Digging is separate from the farming of ginseng -- which, in Wisconsin, is centered mainly in Marathon County. The crop has been popular for years in Asia, where people use its apparent medicinal qualities to cure some serious conditions like memory loss and erectile dysfunction. Ripp said she noticed diggers selling large amounts of ginseng in short periods of time -- a sign that they might have been selling for other people. Also, diggers sold large amounts of ginseng the same day they bought licenses -- which means they could have harvested the plants before being allowed to do so. Last year, Ripp started analyzing records which raised questions about 400 diggers. The D-N-R sent out teams to question the diggers in September. It resulted in 109 citations against 65 diggers, plus 185 verbal warnings. Most violations were for trespassing, leaving stems in the woods, harvesting out-of-season, and digging on public lands which is illegal.
A driver in Madison was not about to be a chauffeur for an intruder who jumped into the person's vehicle -- and the driver got bit in the arm for refusing to go along. Police said a 23-year-old man entered the driver's car on a street around 11 Saturday night. He did not brandish a weapon, or make any threats. He just told the driver to go where he wanted. Police said the driver and a friend tried pushing him out of the car -- and the intruder responded by biting the driver, causing a bruise to an arm. Police said the man was apparently under the influence of something, because he was "speaking gibberish" when he was arrested. Officials said he may have also tried to getting into other vehicles on Madison streets late Saturday night.