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CRIME AND COURT ROUNDUP: Minnesota woman arrested for bank robberies in Hudson and Menomonie

An investigation continues into a string of bank robberies in western Wisconsin and Minnesota. 23-year-old Ranya Al-Huthaili of Roseville Minnesota was arrested Monday night at a shopping mall in her home city. Federal charges had not been filed as of yesterday, when the F-B-I issued a statement about the matter. The five bank robberies began August 15th in Cologne Minnesota, and they ended on Monday with a heist at the Dairy State Bank in Menomonie. The other Wisconsin holdup occurred last Thursday at First State Bank-and-Trust in Hudson. F-B-I chief division counsel Kyle Loven said agents were still trying to find out the motives for the bank robberies. Officials said they did not recover a large amount of money -- and they were still trying to find out what happened to all of it.

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A Plover man has been ordered to stand trial for allegedly raping and killing his neighbor, and burning her car with her body in it to try-and-hide the evidence. 32-year-old Jose Flores Aca was bound over at a preliminary hearing yesterday in Portage County. He's scheduled to enter pleas October seventh to charges of homicide, sexual assault, and hiding a corpse. The incident happened in early August. According to testimony from investigators, Flores Aca was upset about a fight with his girlfriend when 36-year-old Jamie Koch -- his neighbor in his Plover apartment building -- invited him into her place. As she took his wrist to lead him inside, officials said he got angry and knocked her down, strangled her with her bra, wrapped her in a bed sheet, and drove her to neighboring Waupaca County. A state Justice agent testified that Flores Aca showed up at a farm where he used to work, about three miles from the burned car -- and he asked for a ride home, claiming he was dropped off at a party. Reporters said there was extra security at yesterday's preliminary hearing.

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A half-million dollar bond has been set for a man suspected of stabbing a Madison man, assaulting a Cassville man and taking his guns, stealing two vehicles, and taking a cattle truck owner hostage. 36-year-old James Kruger of Fall River is still awaiting charges. For now, he's being held in the Iowa County Jail in Dodgeville, where the hostage victim reportedly got help in getting free on Monday. Shortly after that, officials said Kruger engaged law enforcement officers from four counties in a long high-speed chase. Officials said it ended after Kruger crashed the stolen vehicle he was driving. The Madison stabbing also occurred on Monday. Police said the victim will survive. Media reports say Kruger faces up to seven felonies -- including reckless endangerment, false imprisonment, and fleeing officers. He was charged last week with eluding an officer in Dane County. Kruger was freed on a signature bond.

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A memorial to three teenagers killed on the Wisconsin-Michigan border in 2008 was vandalized within the past week. The Michigan State Police said a stone memorial was damaged at a railroad bridge in the Dickinson County town of Breitung. Authorities are asking for tips on who might have committed the vandalism. The memorial recognizes 19-year-old Bryan Mort, 18-year-old Anthony Spigarelli, and 17-year-old Tiffany Pohlson. They were at a swimming hole on the Wisconsin side of the border near Niagara, when former solider Scott Johnson gunned them down in the summer of 2008. Johnson, who's now 43, sexually assaulted a woman at the same place the night before the shootings. He pleaded no contest to 10 felonies, and is serving three life prison terms plus 295 years.  

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A northeast Wisconsin man pleaded guilty yesterday to a reduced charge, as he admitted helping hackers pull off a cyber-attack on Koch Industries. 37-year-old Eric Rosol of Black Creek faces up to a year in prison when he's sentenced December second. He pleaded guilty in federal court in Kansas to a misdemeanor count of accessing a protected computer. Rosol, a truck driver, admitted helping the hacker group "Anonymous" with a massive volume of cyber requests that shut down Koch's Web site for about 15 minutes in early 2011. The energy company's direct loss from the attack was about five-thousand dollars. Koch said it also spent 183-thousand on consultants who helped protect its Web sites, after Koch learned the attack was coming. Defense lawyer Kurt Kerns says his client should not have to pay a dime for that. He says it's like trying to collect the cost of a safe before it's stolen. As part of his plea deal, Rosol forfeited the computer he used in the cyber-attack. 

Jason Schulte

Jason Schulte is a reporter for the New Richmond News since February 2015. Prior to that he spent eight years at the Pierce County Herald in Ellsworth. His duties with the News will include covering news out of Hammond and Roberts along with action from St. Croix County court system. He lives in Roberts. 

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