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Noon State News Briefs: Kratz lawyer says women making accusations for money

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The attorney for prosecutor Ken Kratz says two-of-the-four women who accuse him of being sexually-suggestive are quote, "driven by financial opportunity."

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Lawyer Robert Craanen tells the AP he wouldn't be surprised if more women show up on national TV to make similar accusations. Kratz, the Calumet County district attorney, admitted last week that he gave racy text messages to abuse victim Stephanie Van Groll while he prosecuted her ex-boyfriend. Since then, a woman accused Kratz of giving her confidential details of a murder and inviting her to an autopsy. Law student Maria Ruskiewicz said Kratz asked her how she performs in bed, after she asked him to support a pardon for her 10-year-old drug conviction. And Van Groll's attorney said a fourth woman accused Kratz of giving her suggestive messages a number of years ago. Craanen said the woman's story about the autopsy invitation was "completely ridiculous." And Craanen says he's investigating the law student's claim. Kratz is getting treatment, he refuses to resign, and he's fighting a possible effort by the governor's office to remove him.

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A state Justice official has asked another agency to review its previous ethics probe into Calumet County District Attorney Ken Kratz. The Office of Lawyer Regulation took no action against Kratz last December. That's after he sent racy text messages to a domestic abuse victim while prosecuting her ex-boyfriend. The Justice Department looked into the matter - and while it did not seek to punish Kratz, it did tell him to report the incident to the Lawyer Regulation office. Now, Justice official Kevin Potter has told the office that its original investigation appeared to be flawed - and it should try again to determine if Kratz broke lawyer conduct rules that quote, "may be relevant." Kratz admitted sending 30 racy text messages to Stephanie Van Groll, after the incident became public for the first time a week ago. Since then, three other women claim that Kratz gave them sexually-suggestive messages. And Kratz is getting treatment while Governor Jim Doyle looks into the possibility of removing him from office.

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A nursing home in Sun Prairie has agreed to pay about two-million-dollars to settle a lawsuit over a patient's death. The family of Cynthia Wilms said nursing home staffers failed to treat her surgical wound correctly, and she died because of it. Wilms was a patient at the Willows Nursing-and-Rehab Center in 2007, after she had hip replacement surgery. The home's owners did not comment on the settlement. The Wilms family attorney, Matthew Boller, said the home was under-staffed - and the death shows the catastrophic results that can occur when that happens.

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A Wausau woman is free on a signature bond, after being charged with kidnapping another woman for a 290-dollar ransom. 29-year-old Jamie Zdanovec is charged in Marathon County with felony kidnapping. And police say they're looking for a second abductor, 33-year-old Chris Devine of Wausau. Police said a female victim told her husband she was being held hostage on Saturday night, and she would be harmed if he didn't pay 290-dollars which Devine claimed the husband owed him. The victim said she didn't know anything about that. She told police the kidnappers put a sweat-shirt around her face, drove her around Wausau, and made a couple stops. A witness saw the incident and gave police a description of the vehicle - and officers later found the vehicle near Zdanovec's home. The female suspect was in the car at the time, along with the victim who was unharmed. Zdanovec is scheduled to return to court October fourth, when a judge will decide if there's enough evidence to order a trial.

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A UW-Madison economist says the next governor and Legislature will have to dig out of a deeper budget hole than what officials last reported. Andrew Reschovsky says the revenue shortfall for the next two-year budget is up to three-point-one billion dollars. That's higher than the Legislative Fiscal Bureau's last projection of two-point-seven billion dollars issued in July. The bureau's estimate is based on the effects of new taxes and spending as approved by lawmakers, but plus other changes in state laws. But Reschovsky says the bureau's estimated deficit does not reflect the expected growth in state tax revenues and government expenses. He says the economic recovery is only modest, which means a smaller growth in tax revenues - while spending will continue to be driven up due to inflation. Reschovsky calls his estimates conservative. And that could force the candidates for governor to scale back the new plans they're touting on the campaign trail. Earlier this month, Democrat Tom Barrett and Republican Scott Walker were both confident they could cut state spending enough to wipe out the deficit - while moving resources to the priorities they're pushing, like tax credits to create new jobs.

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Governor Jim Doyle is encouraging ninth-graders to sign up for the Wisconsin Covenant. He says high school freshmen have until a week from tomorrow to sign up for the Covenant - which guarantees them a spot at a Wisconsin college if they promise to behave and get good grades until then. About 50,000 youngsters from throughout the state have signed the pledge. Those who meet the goals can get up to $2,500 in public-and-private tuition grants for their first two years of college - and extra funding for two more years. Doyle says the Wisconsin Covenant encourages students to start thinking about the high school grades they'll have to get, the college classes they'll need, and the roles they must play in their communities in order to qualify. Taxpayers spend about $25-million a year on tuition grants for the program - and millions more have been donated.

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Things are looking up for Wisconsin's most prestigious maker of men's shoes. Allen-Edmonds of Port Washington added 45 jobs recently, and it now has a total workforce of about 600 - about half of that in southeast Wisconsin. CEO Paul Grangaard says wholesale purchases are expected to rise 15-percent from a year ago, with same-store retail sales up 20-percent. It's allowed Allen-Edmonds to bring back jobs lost during the recession, plus new positions. U-S presidents are among those who wear Allen-Edmonds' top-quality shoes. Grangaard says customers prefer a more American-style appearance, after years of going with Italian styles. He says 90-percent of the company's shoes are made in the U.S. But shoes that require more handiwork are made overseas, to keep labor costs down enough to make the prices competitive.

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