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State Crime and Court Roundup: Man behind "Jamican Lottery Scam" pleads guilty

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

MILWAUKEE - A man pleaded guilty yesterday in federal court in Milwaukee to running one of the more notable lottery scams that we always seem to be hearing about. 28-year-old O'Brain Junior Lynch admitted stealing 35-thousand-dollars from over 50 people during the past two years in what's been called the "Jamaican Lottery scam." Seniors are the biggest targets, especially those on Social Security. The scam has been around for a long time, but it has gotten a lot more active over the past six years. Complaints to the Federal Trade Commission rose from almost two-thousand in 2007 to 29-thousand a year ago. Authorities in Milwaukee say Lynch may have taken up to 400-thousand dollars - but many victims are either too embarrassed to come forward, or they don't know how. A plea agreement says the scammers get their hands on lists that identify older Americans, and then a much-repeated story happens. Victims are told they've won huge prizes, are told to send in hundreds in handling fees, and then the prizes never come. Doug Shadel, state director of the AARP, says scammers admit to getting their victims in a highly-emotional state so they'll send thousands. One woman in an AARP informational video admitted losing 61-thousand dollars.

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How can you invoke your Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination in the digital age? A federal court in Milwaukee is tackling that question in a case that's being watched nationally. Authorities in West Allis suspect that Jeffrey Feldman has illegal child pornography on his computer - but FBI experts found nothing but garble after spending weeks trying to decipher his hard drives. Federal Magistrate Judge William Callahan ordered Feldman to decrypt the files for investigators - and he gave a deadline of yesterday. Federal Judge Rudolph Randa pushed off the deadline, and gave Feldman's lawyer more time to argue the constitutional issues. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says the case could break new legal ground nationally, because only one similar case has reached the appellate level in Florida. Defense lawyer Robin Shellow says Feldman has invoked his Fifth Amendment right not to speak to investigators who came to his apartment - and he exercised the same right when he refused to decrypt the hard drives. Feldman has still not been charged with anything. He's a software developer for Milwaukee's Rockwell Automation.

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Prosecutors in Milwaukee have dropped charges that a child care provider stole over $50,000 from the Wisconsin Shares' program for the working poor. 47-year-old Daphne Eiland was in the third day of her trial last week when the state asked that the case be dismissed. Prosecutor David Feiss said the testimony made it clear that a state Children-and-Families' investigator made miscalculations, did not verify major dates, and counted on witnesses to remember things that happened up to four years ago. Defense lawyer William Sutton asked that the investigator's testimony be thrown out, because the state did not give him notes from the investigator's interviews, as required. About 35 Wisconsin child care providers have been convicted of defrauding the Wisconsin Shares' program. It was first was learned in 2009 that providers had received over 20-million dollars in falsely-claimed compensation. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said Eiland was the first Wisconsin Shares defendant to have her case dropped. The fraud also resulted in 200 centers being suspended from the state program.

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A 14-year-old boy has pleaded no contest to an adult homicide charge for the brutal slaying of his great-grandmother last year in Sheboygan Falls. Antonio Barbeau was scheduled to go on trial in nine days. Instead, he struck a plea deal which convicts him of his original homicide charge with a life prison sentence - but they'll ask the judge to set an early date for a possible supervised prison release in 35 years, when Barbeau is 49. Barbeau and 14-year-old Nathan Paape were accused of killing 78-year-old Barbara Olson at her home last September. Authorities said they ransacked her house, and then went out to get pizza and marijuana with the money they stole. Paape has pleaded innocent to his homicide charge. His trial is still set to begin June 14th.

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Six of every seven people arrested for marijuana possession in Wisconsin are black. That's according to a new study by the American Civil Liberties Union - which is using a similar report nationally to push for a legalization of pot. The ACLU said it used 2010 census and FBI data to come up with its figures. It only counts individual arrests and does not take repeat offenders into account. The report said that in Waukesha County, 12 blacks were arrested for pot possession for every white in 2010. In Brown County, where Green Bay is located, the ACLU said seven blacks get marijuana raps for every white offender. Other ratios are six-and-a-half to one in Dane County, in the Madison area - and four-point-seven to one in Milwaukee County. The ACLU contends that blacks and whites smoke marijuana at about the same rate. Its surveys showed that 14-percent of blacks admitted getting high on pot in 2010, and 12-percent of whites. State and local law enforcement officials have not commented on the report. The ACLU says government should tax and regulate marijuana. Chris Ahmuty, the group's state director, admits such changes would be hard to pass. So in the meantime, he says local police should make pot users a low priority. Ahmuty says getting guns off the streets should be a bigger priority.

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Federal workplace officials have given 14 citations to a Waukesha foundry for violating health-and-safety laws. Cast-alloy Incorporated faces up to $83,000 in potential fines from the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Officials said the steel factory committed two repeat violations involving a harmful exposure of chemicals. OSHA said workers were exposed to formaldehyde for over eight hours at a time. The agency also employees were using inadequate safety equipment. The alleged violations were uncovered during an OSHA inspection last November. Cast-alloy has about 130 workers. The firm has been cited six times in 13 OSHA inspections. Cast-alloy has 15 days to decide whether to pay the fine, challenge the new citations, or seek a settlement conference. The firm has not commented.

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A supermarket chain has settled with the state on allegations of overcharging its customers. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports that Roundy's Supermarket Inc. paid a $43,000 fine after inspections at 43 stores discovered inaccurate prices. Seven of those store allegedly did not correct scanned prices, after an order from inspectors with the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. The Journal Sentinel reports that Roundy's did not admit to violating any state laws.

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Five teens were arrested after a video on Facebook showed them allegedly beating a 16-year-old in a gang initiation. Everest Metro Police says school officials learned of the video on May 10 and notified authorities. Police were able to identify the teens, ages range from 14 to 16, from the video posted. The teens face serious charges, including physical abuse to a child and criminal gang member solicitation and contact. The 16-year-old was not seriously injured. Authorities say the gang has no affiliation and was in the early stages of forming.

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