CRIME AND COURT ROUNDUP: Officials seize over $750,000 from a Superior home
Authorities have seized over three-quarter million dollars from a home in Superior owned by a controversial head-shop owner. Officers and a regional drug crime task force searched the home of Jim Carlson this week. Carlson is seeking a new trial after he was convicted in October of 51 federal crimes for selling illegal synthetic drugs at the Last Place on Earth store in Duluth that was seized earlier this month. Police officials said the search of Carlson's home was the result of information obtained after his conviction -- and they said they found what they were looking for. Besides the money, police seized synthetic drugs, suspected marijuana, high-capacity gun magazines, other ammunition, and body armor. Carlson is in jail after his conviction, awaiting sentencing. He shared the Superior home with his girlfriend Lava Haugen, who was convicted of four federal charges. Police have not said whether any new charges will be filed against either Carlson or Haugen as the result of this week's seizures. Carlson's lawyer said the action might have been result of a preliminary order to forfeit what he made from the synthetic drug sales -- just over six-and-a-half million dollars.
A Fond du Lac couple is seeing red, after a jury ruled that a blue car is a suitable replacement for their defective red car under Wisconsin's Lemon Law. Consumer groups and the auto industry were watching the case of David and Mary Porter, to see if a vehicle's color would be an issue under the law that requires automakers to replace new cars sold with manufacturing defects. A Milwaukee County jury deliberated six hours before ruling that the new vehicle's color did not have to be the same as the old. The Porters said they chose their new Ford Escape in 2010 only because of its red exterior and light tan interior. And for the 27-thousand-dollars they paid, the couple said Ford owed it to them to make the replacement the exact same colors. Ford offered a model that was two years newer, but with a blue exterior and charcoal interior -- and a moon roof instead of a roof rack. Ford argued that it met all its conditions for providing a comparable vehicle to replace one that kept having transmission problems. The Porter's attorney, Vince Megna, said he was shocked that a different-colored vehicle was considered comparable. Still, he said he was grateful that the jury gave the issue serious thought.
A new sentencing date has been set for a Minnesota man convicted of killing his girlfriend near Wausau. 22-year-old Richi Vue was supposed to be sentenced January second, but the date's been changed to February fourth in Marathon County Circuit Court. Vue, of Saint Paul, got out of a possible life prison term when he pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of reckless homicide in the shooting death of 20-year-old Lee Xiong in her Weston apartment 14 months ago. The killing was over money from their sales of meth-amphetamines. Vue was caught with one of 55 weapons stolen in a rash of gun shop burglaries in the Wausau area last year. Vue struck a plea deal in which charges of vehicle theft, fleeing an officer, and illegal firearm possession were dropped. Officials said Vue escaped the murder scene in a stolen truck, and was tracked down in a wooded area about 40 miles away near Abbotsford.
A 21-year-old man was shot-to-death overnight while working at a George Webb's restaurant in Milwaukee. Police said the employee was trying to remove a disorderly customer when that person suddenly turned around, pulled a gun, and shot the worker. It happened around two this morning at the George Webb's on Oakland Avenue on Milwaukee's east side. Officials said the gunman fled the restaurant, and was still being sought at last word.
More Wisconsinites who had their homes foreclosed upon during the Great Recession will get compensated for abusive lending practices. Ocwen Financial of Atlanta reached a two-point-one billion dollar settlement yesterday in lawsuits filed by Wisconsin, 48 other states, and other entities. Attorney General J-B Van Hollen and the state Financial Institutions' department said homeowners in the Badger State would share in over 13-million dollars. Once a federal judge approves the settlement, an administrator will notify those eligible for compensation. Ocwen specializes in high-risk mortgage loans. The firm is expected to provide 12-million in mortgage principal reductions -- and almost 25-hundred customers are expected to get over a-thousand dollars each by filing valid claims. The lawsuit accused Ocwen, Homeward Residential, and Litton Home Servicing of carrying out unauthorized and premature foreclosures, filing deceptive legal documents, and violating homeowners' legal protections. Payments will go to customers of those three firms who had foreclosures between 2009-and-'11. Van Hollen said Wisconsin is making another mortgage server accountable for unfair practices, while making them treat people fairly in the future. Five other lenders reached a similar settlement last year. State officials say it has provided over 51-billion dollars of relief to distressed homeowners.